Dallas woman sentenced to 12 years in prison for wrong-way accident in Ellis County

Daily Light Report

Hannah Dillard, 33, of Dallas, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in the Texas

Department of Criminal Justice for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, Ellis County and District Attorney Ann Montgomery announced Friday. 

According to a news release, Dillard pleaded guilty and proceeded to a punishment hearing in front of a jury, which lasted three days.

Hannah Dillard, 33, of Dallas

Montgomery stated in the release, “there is no excuse for driving while intoxicated. Five innocent lives were affected by Dillard’s reckless actions, and the jury sent a strong message that intoxicated driving will not be tolerated in Ellis County.”

On Oct. 22, 2017, Dillard drove southbound in the northbound lanes of I-35. Dillard was traveling from her home in Dallas, and she moved through DeSoto and Lancaster before she was in a head-on collision in Ellis County. Multiple people called 911 regarding a wrong-way driver, and Red Oak Police attempted to stop Dillard as she drove, but she did not stop, according to the release.

Dillard crashed ran head-on into a car carrying five Southern Methodist University students traveling home toward Dallas from Waco. Three of the students suffered debilitating injuries, the release stated. One victim’s injuries included a spinal injury, a shattered ankle, a broken arm, and a broken pelvis. This victim testified that she now had 37 implants in her body as a result of the crash. She stated, “I was able bodied before and now I have a disability for decisions that were not mine.”

"Dillard was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon because she was reckless by driving a vehicle while intoxicated, causing bodily injury to others,

and using her car as a deadly weapon," the release said. "Evidence showed that Dillard had a blood alcohol content of .24 – three times the legal limit. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a second-degree felony and has a punishment range of 2-20 years in prison."

A jury may also recommend community supervision instead of prison time if a defendant

has never previously been convicted of a felony. Though Dillard had no previous criminal history, Prosecutors asked the jury to assess punishment at 12 years in prison, and the jury returned their verdict of 12 years for a sentence within 25 minutes.

Assistant County and District Attorneys Sherry Roeder and Grace Pandithurai prosecuted the case, assisted by County and District Attorney Investigator Joseph  Aguilar. The case was investigated by the Waxahachie Police Department.

The victims and defendant were extracted from the scene of the collision and cared for by the Waxahachie Fire Department.

Judge Cindy Ermatinger, of the 443rd District Court, presided over the case.