Clarendon man sentenced to 20 years for leading police on high speed chase

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 9:33 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 27, 2023 at 12:19 PM CST
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CLARENDON, Texas (KFDA) - A Clarendon man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for leading police on a high speed chase last year in August.

The 100th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said during a jury trial on Feb. 22, 45-year-old Darren Ray Gunnels was convicted of a third degree felony offense of evading arrest in a motor vehicle.

Darren Ray Gunnels
Darren Ray Gunnels(100th Judicial District Attorney's Office)

After the court heard that the state filed a notice to enhance the punishment to a second degree felony, the jury sentenced Gunnels to 20 years in prison, which is the maximum punishment available.

District Attorney Luke Inman, along with Assistant District Attorney Harley Caudle, prosecuted the case for the State of Texas, with the Honorable Judge Stuart Messer presiding.

On Aug. 12, 2022, Donley County Sheriff’s Office arrested Gunnels. He was originally indicted for three felony counts on Oct. 3, 2022

“Gunnels has been a degenerate burden on our community for 25 years,” said Caudle. “This is his ninth felony conviction, and will be his fourth trip to prison. I can only hope that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles will keep him locked up for the full 20 years this time, because we don’t want him back.”

Donley County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wesley Christopher, who arrested Gunnels, testified about the vehicle pursuit and Gunnels jumping from the vehicle illegally parked in the middle of the road through the passenger window.

He said there were multiple turns and blown stop signs during the chase.

“Our unsuspecting children are not looking both ways across the street every time like we would hope for, looking for vehicles taking erratic turns and speeding down residential streets,” said Inman. “This defendant’s actions were just as dangerous as the perpetrators that drive over 100 miles per hour down 287. They all have to be stopped and arrested before they injure our loved ones.”

Sheriff Butch Blackburn, who also testified, said at the time of the arrest, that a syringe found in Gunnels’ pocket was not to treat diabetes.

“I can’t even count the number of times a defendant has claimed he is a diabetic in hopes that would explain away his possession of a syringe,” said Caudle. “I guess methamphetamine degrades critical-thinking ability so much that the subject actually thinks law enforcement will believe it.”

After viewing the evidence, Gunnels was convicted of the evading offense and acquitted on two other charges before the evading took place.