By Nathan Henderson


A legal driver?

Introduction  An essay consisting of photos by Nathan Henderson. All of the photos were taken at the Texas State Capitol during the 2019 YMCA State Conference. The photos illustrate the events of district court during the conference.

Description  The battle of the attorneys culminates with the State vs Cameron Shepard at YMCA District Court on Friday. The case debates an intoxication manslaughter charge against Cameron Shepard for the death of Chassidy Barnes in a car accident.

Overview The scope of the case describes the trial of a fatality accident. The case states that on the night of June 30, 2018, Chassidy Barnes was killed in a accident where drinking was involved. Those involved were Cameron Shepard, the driver, Taylor Belanger, and Chassidy Barnes. Various witnesses were called to the stand to give their account of the events or give expert analysis of the accident.

Officer Jordan Cole Officer Jordan Cole was a first responder on the scene of the accident. He also performed a roadside alcohol test on Cameron Shepard at the scene of the crash. Cole said that Shepard was most likely intoxicated at the scene of the crash. Shepard  “refused to take one of the tests, as well as having increasingly blinking eyes.”  The prosecution used officer Cole to illustrate the fact that Cameron Shepard was intoxicated at the time of driving.

Working at Austin General Hospital, Emery Payne drew the blood of Shepard at the direction of Officer Jordan Cole. Payne described Cole as “calm, compliant, and quiet.” Even with his attitude pointing towards another ruling, Payne came to the verdict that Shepard was drunk. The prosecution used Payne as a vital witness to prove their case against Shepard.  

Imani Haynes Imani Haynes was a “68 year old young” woman who directly witnessed the crash. She described the car as, “Swerving violently and unable maintain a straight line.” Haines supposedly attempted to get the attention of the driver and was unsuccessful. The defense on numerous times tried to blame the crime on Haynes.

Urban Rhodes The bartender for the night of the crash, Urban Rhodes, testified to “save his business.” He said that those involved where in fact not intoxicated but fully capable of their wits. The defense had to tackle the implicit bias of Urban Rhodes during the case. The defense used Rhodes to illustrate the unreliability of the bar receipt as evidence. Urban Rhodes played a vital part for the defense during the course of this trial.

Taylor Belanger Taylor Belanger, friend to Cameron Shepard and Chassidy Barnes, testified to save his friend from impending doom towards a jail sentence. Belanger testified to blame Imani Haynes for the incident. He describes Haynes as, “An elderly woman who was frantic and was like screaming into their phone.”  Belanger continued to fight for his friend in both cases.


Dr. Sidney Tate The defense called to the stand Dr. Sidney Tate, who was recognized as an expert of traffic safety and science.

“I have a dual bachelor in science and chemistry, as well as a PhD in education,” Tate said.

Doctor Tate testified as in his opinion for the fatal accident and gave calculations to back his testament. Tate used the Winmark formula as well as the elapsed time to obtain his conclusion.

“I have come to a conclusion that Mr. Shepard had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.06,” Tate said, which would make Shepard legal to drive home that night. Dr. Tate ruled that Cameron Shepard is not guilty.

Both judges deliberated and remained unbiased throughout the trial and did the best of their abilities to give a fair verdict .