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story.lead_photo.caption Tyler Musselwhite

A woman accused of causing a serious car crash while eight months pregnant and four times the legal limit pleaded not guilty to intoxication assault Tuesday at a hearing in Bowie County.

Tyler Briann Musselwhite, 25, appeared before 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart for arraignment Tuesday afternoon in a first-floor courtroom of the Bi-State Justice Building. Deborah Moore of the Bowie County Public Defenders Office entered a plea of not guilty to the charge on Musselwhite's behalf.

Moore told the court that she currently has no plea offer for Musselwhite from the state.

"That's exactly right," Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said in response.

Musselwhite is facing two to 10 years in prison if found guilty of being under the influence when she caused an accident on a Bowie County highway that seriously injured Mallory Dauzat, a 31-year-old mother of young children. Lockhart scheduled Musselwhite to return to court for her first pretrial hearing in January. A date for jury selection has not yet been scheduled.

Musselwhite was reportedly eight months pregnant and four times the .08 blood alcohol limit when she crossed the center line and struck Dauzat's Hyundai Sonata on the evening of Aug. 3 on U.S. Highway 59 in Bowie County, according to a probable cause affidavit used to create the following account.

Musselwhite allegedly struck Dauzat after crossing from the inside southbound lane at approximately 8 p.m. A pickup traveling in front of the Hyundai managed to avoid the crash, but the Hyundai's front quarter panel was hit by Musselwhite's oncoming Mitsubishi.

The two cars reportedly became entangled, spinning in a counterclockwise direction before separating. Musselwhite's car skidded sideways before rolling onto its right side, partially ejecting Musselwhite, who was not wearing a seat belt.

The Jaws of Life reportedly had to be used to extract Dauzat from her car. She suffered multiple broken bones and other injuries from which she is still recovering. Dauzat said she has been unable to return to work since the accident.

Witnesses who helped free Musselwhite from her wrecked car allegedly reported a strong odor of alcohol, and a partially consumed bottle of vodka was allegedly recovered from the mangled Mitsubishi. Testing of Musselwhite's blood conducted at the hospital prior to surgery allegedly showed a blood alcohol level of .329. A sample of Musselwhite's blood was sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab for testing as well. Those results are not included in the affidavit.

Musselwhite was indicted Thursday for intoxication assault. The third-degree felony is punishable by two to 10 years in prison. Musselwhite is being held in the Bowie County jail. Bowie County court records show Musselwhite was free on a $5,000 bond stemming from a June 2 arrest for driving while intoxicated when she allegedly caused the crash Aug. 3. Records also show Musselwhite was convicted of DWI in 2014.

Dauzat is facing months of rehabilitation. A GoFundMe page has been established to accept donations to help defray her mounting expenses at gofundme.com/ua8bz-head-on-collision.

llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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