Trent Stanley’s shoulders shook and his mother cried as jurors Friday sentenced Stanley to 99 years in prison for running down Grayson County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Key in April of last year. Mr. Key was directing traffic on U.S. Highway 82 at Bethany Road when Stanley ran into him.

Trent Stanley’s shoulders shook and his mother cried as jurors Friday sentenced Stanley to 99 years in prison for running down Grayson County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Key in April of last year. Mr. Key was directing traffic on U.S. Highway 82 at Bethany Road when Stanley ran into him.


Jurors also sentenced Stanley to 42 years in prison for a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon of a public servant. Mr. Key was 42 years old when he died and had only been a deputy a little more than two months. He had been a father for 20 years, but had a newborn son at home. That son will turn one this month.


Mr. Key’s widow told jurors their infant was two months old when his father died and will never remember him. She said Mr. Key’s middle son and oldest son will never get to turn to their dad for help as they continue to grow and make lives for themselves. She said Mr. Key’s first wife died and left him with two sons to raise. He did that alone until they decided to make a life together. She said losing her husband has torn the very fabric of her life, and she still finds it almost impossible to cope with the loss. In her victim impact statement, April Key said she spent her third wedding anniversary alone at her husband’s grave. "I won’t get to grow old with Chad the way we had planned," she said as she sobbed.


Jurors also heard Friday that Mr. Key is not the only son his parents have loss to a drunk driver. Mr. Key’s younger brother was also killed by a drunk driver ten years ago. Once the jury had been dismissed Friday, Mr. Key’s father gave a victim impact statement in which he told Stanley what it felt like to have now buried two sons because of drunk drivers. "There was a hole in my heart," the elder Key said. And he added he now has two holes in his heart, and they will not heal until he too dies and sees his sons again in heaven.


Grayson County Sheriff Keith Gary Friday said he was pleased with the jury’s verdict in the case. "We were proud to have Chad (as a deputy) even if it was such a short time," he said. "When I interviewed him for the patrol position, he literally jumped out of his chair and pumped his fist (when he was told he got the job)." Gary said even other law enforcement officers were impressed by the love Mr. Key had for his chosen profession. Mr. Key had been a truck driver and a jailer before putting himself through the police academy and applying for a patrol position.


His wife told jurors he was so proud to have finally realized his dream. She showed them a photo of him in his new uniform that she said was taken just before his first shift as a deputy.


Brown was assisted in the case by Assistant District Attorney Donny Carter and investigator Mike Ditto.


Brown introduced evidence during the penalty phase of the trial that showed jurors Stanley was actually out on bond waiting trial on an additional drunk driving charge when he hit Mr. Key. That DWI charge came in the summer of 2012 when an officer in Gunter stopped Stanley early one morning. Stanley was driving a truck and pulling a trailer containing a horse when he was pulled over. Jurors watched as Stanley failed field sobriety tests, and then attempted talk the officer out of arresting him on a DWI charge. The officer told Stanley he was "just an accident waiting to happen" and cautioned the man to give his behavior serious thought. Jurors also watched as Stanley laughed off that advice.


After the case concluded, Brown said, "The sentence, I believe, was a result of Mr. Stanley’s history — his prior DWI convictions, as well as the fact he had been arrested eight months earlier and was prohibited from driving when he killed Deputy Key. But there are larger messages that were sent with that verdict, that were part of the theme of our case."


Brown made a point to tell jurors that multiple stints on probation had not changed Stanley’s behavior.


"I hate that the system allowed Stanley to be out, but juries continue to give probation on first, second and even third DWIs," he said. "When that happens, we can’t require jail time as part of plea agreements, because defendants will just ask a jury to sentence them. Until everyone — parents, drivers, juries, prosecutors, judges and lawmakers — take this problem seriously, people will continue to die."


Riddels was assisted by his brother, attorney Garrett Riddels. Visiting Judge Richard Mays heard the case in the east courtroom at the Grayson County Courthouse.


Gaylon Riddels couldn’t be reached for a comment Saturday.