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Driver again found guilty of murder in crash that killed teen

December 6, 2018

An Orange County jury on Wednesday found Kelvin Lee Roy guilty for the 2014 murder of a 16-year-old Vidor girl.

Again.

Friends and relatives of the Bertrand family, who filled three rows of the state District Court, gasped in relief when the verdict was read. The eight-man, four-woman jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes. They will begin considering his punishment on Thursday.

Roy, 36, of Beaumont was previously convicted of the murder and sentenced to 75 years in prison in late August 2014, months after a vehicle he was driving “sheared” the right side of the Bertrand family’s Honda minivan that February, killing Alexandria Bertrand.

Roy’s case was brought back to court this week following a higher court’s order overturning the conviction on the grounds that the trial judge should have instructed the jury to consider a lesser charge of intoxication manslaughter in addition to murder.

Bertrand and her mother, April, were en route to buy Valentine’s Day candy on Feb. 7, 2014, when Roy’s vehicle jumped the railroad tracks at Main Street and Old U.S. 90 in Vidor and caused Bertrand’s body to be ejected from the vehicle.

“I’d like to say that I’m an optimistic, happy person,” April Bertrand testified during the punishment portion of the trial. “But this wreck and the loss of my baby girl has altered that. I struggle daily.”

Roy, who testified on Wednesday morning, said he was “messed up” the night of the crash.

“I don’t remember the accident or anything that happened,” he said.

A blood sample, taken immediately after the accident, found Roy had marijuana, PCP and alcohol in his system. His blood-alcohol content was 0.015, below the legal limit of 0.08, according to a Jefferson County Crime Lab toxicologist.

According to Roy’s testimony, he and then-girlfriend Taralynn Brown were driving to Vidor to pay a man who had previously fixed the brake pads on Brown’s white Mercury Sable, the same vehicle involved in the incident that killed Bertrand.

Just blocks from leaving the man’s home, Roy said he lit a dipped cigarette and “puffed a couple times.”

Roy said he began feeling “sick, light-headed” and a bit dizzy, soon “losing consciousness” and awareness of his surroundings. He testified that he tried to pull over and asked Brown to take the wheel.

“That’s the last thing I remember,” he said. “The next thing I’m waking up in jail.”

Prosecutor Krispen Walker called Roy’s testimony “a fabricated, made-up story” and accused him of having “selective memory.” Noting that his account contradicted Brown’s version of events, Walker told the jury, “His memory benefits him when he needs it to.”

Brown testified on Tuesday that Roy told her he was “going to kill both of us” as he “mashed on the gas.”

While the details he recollected were scant, Roy said during cross-examination that he was sure he did not tell Brown he intended to kill her.

Defense attorney Ryan Gertz said he believed there was “overwhelming” evidence that Roy committed manslaughter rather than murder.

“We’re not saying he should walk out of here because he was high on PCP,” Gertz said. He questioned whether the state could prove Roy acted with “conscious objective or desire” to cause serious bodily injury or death.

Other than Brown’s account that Roy threatened to kill both of them, Gertz said the case is “just an intoxicated driver that caused the death of other people.”

Donna Roy Bell, Roy’s older sister who raised him, testified during the punishment phase she believed Roy “just made a mistake.” He shouldn’t have been driving while on PCP, she said, and he shouldn’t have been taking drugs at all.

“I know she did her job, painted an ugly picture of him,” Bell said of Walker. “But Kelvin is a kind person.”

“I was told I caused an accident that took a life,” Roy said. “I feel very bad about it because that’s not me normally. I don’t wake up daily on a daily basis wanting to kill myself or anybody else.”

Court testimony showed that Roy’s past charges and convictions include assault or family violence, felony possession of marijuana and two felony possessions of a controlled substance.

phoebe.suy@beaumontenterprise.com

twitter.com/phoebesuy

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