(Fort Worth, TX) – A Tarrant County judge sentenced Cristen Danielle Hamilton, 37, to seven years in prison for her guilty plea to Intoxication Manslaughter with a vehicle. Hamilton also pled “true” to the deadly weapon finding in her case, which Judge Scott Wisch said made her ineligible for probation in the automobile accident death of TCU Assistant Dean Dr. Jamie Dulle.
Tarrant County Assistant Criminal District Attorney Christopher McGregor prosecuted the case.
“Nobody wins here today,” said Judge Wisch, who is retiring after 27 years on the bench. “This is one of the most sad cases I have ever presided over,” said Wisch. Hamilton, a former medical student, “made one mistake, distressed about not making good enough grades to stay in her school, went out drinking and then got behind the wheel of her car,” said the judge. “Her one bad mistake cost the life of a brilliant and dedicated servant at TCU.”
Dr. Dulle, 41, was a beloved TCU Assistant Dean of Campus Life, a single mother of two boys who moved to Fort Worth from Ohio after her husband died from brain cancer.
Testimony at the sentencing hearing Wednesday began with Kathy Cavins-Tull, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at TCU, who gave an emotional account of how she and her husband stepped in as guardian parents for Dulle’s two young boys. She testified how Dulle came to TCU to fulfill the promise she made to her dying husband that she would complete her doctorate degree and take care of her boys. “She did it all,” said Tull, “devoted to her sons, devoted to the students, and a champion of the of TCU athletic department helping athletes through times of crisis.”
Dulle’s father, Jim Elshire, a former football coach from Wapakoneta, Ohio, testified about his daughter’s giving nature, even in death. “Jamie was an organ donor,” said Elshire. “After her death she saved five different people who got her transplanted organs.” Elsire concluded his tear filled testimony by sayng, “She is a girl that deserves to be known and remembered.”
“This is heart breaking, after hearing two and a half hours of testimony from both sides,” said prosecutor McGregor during closing arguments. “I commend Ms. Hamilton for taking responsibility for her actions, but she made a mistake that took an innocent woman’s life, left her boys without parents and deprived TCU of a gifted dean…whatever the sentence today, it will never equal the value of Dr. Dulle’s life.
Hamilton’s father, Carl, tearfully apologized to Dr. Dulle’s family, saying, “We’re not asking for mercy or a reduced sentence for our daughter, we’re only asking for forgiveness.”
Hamilton must now serve at least half of her sentence in prison before she is eligible for parole.