California man convicted of two counts of murder and crashing into an
Uber vehicle while leading police on a chase and killing two passengers
in 2020 has been sentenced
to 50 years in prison, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg
is a man with a long criminal history, and he finally did the horrible
thing that we worry about when someone continually commits crimes,” Ogg
said. “These two
young women, who were being responsible by using a rideshare service
instead of driving, should have been safe riding home — they should
still be alive.”
Brian Tatum, 47, was found guilty on Thursday of the murders of Priscilla DeLeon and Diana Salazar in the 351st District Court. On Monday, Tatum agreed to
a punishment of 50 years in prison.
was driving a white Acura RDX when police tried to pull him over for a
traffic stop in northeast Houston around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2020.
Tatum fled from police
and drove about two miles. He was driving about 100 mph in a 35 mph
zone when he T-boned a silver Honda Accord being driven by an Uber
driver at the intersection of Jensen and Parker.
force of the crash split the Honda in half, killing the passengers,
Priscilla DeLeon, a 25-year-old graduate of Texas A&M University,
and her cousin, Diana Salazar,
a 24-year-old graduate of the University of Houston.
Harris County jury convicted Tatum after a weeklong trial. Jurors
deliberated just 39 minutes. Tatum was facing a sentence ranging from 25
years to life in prison based
on his criminal history. Instead of letting jurors or a judge decide
his punishment, he agreed to 50 years in prison, which he cannot appeal.
He has to serve at least 25 years before he is eligible for parole.
District Attorney Kelly Marshall, who prosecuted the case with ADA
Cameron Gonzales, said Tatum was born in Houston and moved to California
where he had been
convicted of several felonies, including evading arrest.
repeatedly fled from police, and it was only a matter of time before he
killed someone,” Marshall said. “Unfortunately, he killed two wonderful
and smart young women
who were cousins and had an amazing family.”
the verdict and plea agreement, more than two dozen family members who
sat through the entire trial wearing buttons with a photo of both
victims gathered just outside
the courtroom to show solidarity. The mothers of the two victims stood
together and sobbed as family and friends tried to comfort them.
Teare, chief of the District Attorney’s Office’s Vehicular Crimes
Division, noted that Tatum was being pulled over by deputy with the
Harris County Sheriff’s Office,
but the crash was handled by the Houston Police Department.
vehicular crimes divisions of both of those agencies had to work this
case together, and this outcome is a perfect example of interagency
cooperation, along with
the District Attorney’s Office,” Teare said. “We were all out there
that night, and now this family can start to heal, knowing that this man
will probably never get out of prison.”
said a case like this offers a simple lesson: If you see police lights
behind you, just stop. It’s most likely a traffic violation.
“But if you run and do something like this,” Teare said, “you may never get out of prison.”
Communications Division, Harris County District Attorney’s Office
1201 Franklin St.
Houston, TX 77002