A Travis County district judge sentenced the driver of a car who killed a 32-year-old Marble Falls physician to three years deferred adjudication.
On Nov. 5, Cameron O’Connell, 32, entered a guilty plea to criminal negligent homicide in Travis County District Judge Dayna Blazey’s courtroom. The judge set Dec. 10 as the sentencing date. O’Connell’s attorney asked the court to consider deferred adjudication, a type of community supervision in which a person does not get a conviction on their record if they follow all court-mandated rules.
“It’s a total injustice,” said a spokesperson for Michael Babineaux’s family. “There was no value for a human life — Michael’s life — in the deal.”
O’Connell initially faced a felony manslaughter charge, but the Travis County District Attorney’s Office reduced the charge to criminal negligent homicide. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison. Criminal negligent homicide is a state jail felony with a maximum punishment of up to two years in jail.
Babineaux’s family was dismayed by the district attorney’s office agreeing to the plea of a lesser charge and angry about the final sentencing.
“This guy gets a slap on the wrist for killing Michael,” the spokesperson stated. “Basically, the court and district attorney just gave him back his keys and let him back out there on the roads.”
O’Connell was driving a Nissan Titan pickup truck on Oct. 29, 2018, in Lakeway when witnesses told an investigating Texas Department of Public Safety trooper that the man attempted to pass a white SUV in the center turn lane. O’Connell lost control of his vehicle and crossed into oncoming traffic, striking Babineaux’s vehicle.
Babineaux, a physician with Baylor Scott & White Specialty Clinic-Marble Falls, died at the scene. He left behind a wife and three children — one of which was born just days after his death.
Witnesses told the investigating trooper that O’Connell was tailgating the white SUV at an unsafe distance and tried to pass in the turn lane at a high rate of speed.
Initially, the trooper charged O’Connell with manslaughter, noting in an arrest warrant affidavit that he attempted to pass a vehicle in a clearly designated no-passing area at a high rate of speed. A Travis County grand jury even indicted O’Connell on the manslaughter charge.
The Babineaux family believes the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, led by District Attorney José Garza, let them and the community down.
“The safety of the community is not the district attorney’s priority,” the spokesperson stated. “A man’s life was taken, and the person responsible won’t spend a day in prison. Yet we’re left with a lifetime of pain and suffering with the loss of Micheal.”
The Travis County District Attorney’s Office did not respond with a comment on this case.