Local woman sentenced for intoxication manslaughter

Vanessa Davis

Jefferson County Criminal District Attorney Bob Wortham announced Jan. 11 that Vanessa Ann Davis, 56, was sentenced by Judge Raquel West to 18 years in Texas prison following trial in the 252nd District Court.

Shortly before 7 a.m. on July 5, 2015, Port Arthur Police, Fire, and EMS responded to reports of a major vehicle crash near the intersection of Gulfway Drive and 9th Avenue. A Buick Lesabre, driven by Vanessa Ann Davis, had flipped after hitting a brick flower bed and crashed into a light pole in a parking lot.

Pamela Fields, a passenger in the Buick, had been ejected and was killed instantly. Two other passengers in the car survived and were transported to local hospitals. Davis was observed by witnesses and responders to be acting aggressive and paranoid.  Once she was taken to a hospital, PAPD officers discovered she had been smoking crack cocaine shortly before the crash.  Witnesses observed Davis swerving across multiple lanes at high speed down Gulfway, where she ran a red light at the intersection with 9th Avenue. 

Multiple witnesses testified for the prosecution, including a priest who witnessed the erratic driving and crash from St. James Catholic Church. Jurors also heard from a surviving passenger.  Hospital personnel and a Texas Department of Public Safety lab analyst testified that Davis’ blood contained cocaine several hours after the incident.  Photographs of the crash scene were shown to the jury during trial. After less than an hour of deliberations, the Jefferson County jury returned a guilty verdict Wednesday afternoon. 

Judge Raquel West of the 252nd Criminal District Court determined Davis’ punishment after testimony from family members.  Davis faced a punishment range of 2-20 years for the offense.

Prosecutor Luke Nichols stated, “This was a horrific crash that took the life of Pamela Fields. It is a miracle no other persons were killed. The family is pleased with the judge’s sentence, and feels justice has been served for their loved one.”

This case was investigated by the Port Arthur Police Department with assistance from the Jefferson County Regional Crime Lab and Texas Department of Public Safety.