Man with previous history of DWIs pleads guilty to killing 20-year-old UT Dallas student in crash

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The mother and father of Colton Roberts, 20, addressed the man who killed their son in court Tuesday.

“All I can do now is write letters to him in a journal that only I will ever see. Things I would say that he’ll never get to hear,” said Bill, the young man’s father.

Scott Taylor pled guilty to intoxication manslaughter for the August 2021 crash that killed Roberts. The crash happened on Jollyville Road just after 9 p.m., right before Roberts was set to return to class at the University of Texas Dallas.

Roberts’ parents took their son’s photo to the witness stand as they read their victim impact statements.

During their impact statements, Roberts’ parents talked about how close they were with their son and how much his community adored him.

“My 6-foot tall son, healthy, vibrant, so full of life… came home in a small box,” said his mother Tanya.

Judge Julie Kocurek accepted Taylor’s guilty plea in front a courtroom full of Roberts’ family and friends. She asked Taylor if he had anything to say.

“I want to say I’m sorry to the family and friends,” he said. “If I could take it back, I would switch places with Colton.”

KXAN previously dug further into Taylor’s case, finding evidence of multiple DWI arrests.

According to his Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) criminal history report, Taylor has two previous misdemeanor DWIs — one in 2000 and another in 2010. They occurred in Travis and Comal Counties, respectively.

Unless elevated circumstances are at play, DWIs don’t become felonies until an individual’s third.

A 2015 arrest affidavit shows Austin Police arresting Taylor for DWI on Taylor Draper Lane. According to his DPS record, this ultimately became a Reckless Driving charge. Misdemeanor court records show the DWI charge getting dismissed, and Taylor instead receiving probation for reckless driving.

“It sickens me that more wasn’t done to stop Scott Taylor,” Tanya said.

Those cases occurred before Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza took office, but he said in general, instances like this result from challenges with evidence.

“My heart is really broken for Colton and his family,” he said. “I think of them and their pain, and it is part of why that in addition to the defendant’s criminal history, we thought a maximum sentence was appropriate under the circumstances.”

The Texas DPS quarterly DWI report below shows the latest tracked recidivism rate for people arrested for and convicted of DWI.

Texas DPS DWI recidivism report - 2023.

Amber Russell, who’s representing the Roberts family in a civil suit against Taylor, is now searching for ways to improve state law to prevent people with multiple DWI arrests from getting behind the wheel.

“This DWI death was predictable and preventable,” she said. Her firm is now reaching out to state lawmakers with the hopes of creating harsher punishments for repeat DWI offenders and increasing the amount of resources for victims’ families.

Taylor was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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