HOUSTON – A man who crashed into an Uber vehicle and killed two women after leading police on a chase in northeast Houston in 2020 was sentenced to 50 years in prison, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Tuesday.
Brian Okeith Tatum, 47, was found guilty in the murders of 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, in the 351st District Court. According to Andy Kahan with Crime Stoppers, a jury deliberated for 39 minutes. The punishment phase reportedly begins Friday.
“This 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.”
Trial Update:— Andy Kahan (@akahancrimesto1) February 3, 2023
Defendant Brian Tatum found guilty of the murder of Priscilla DeLeon and Diana Salazar today in the 351st District Court. Jury deliberated a whopping 39 minutes.
Punishment phase begins tomorrow.
25 years to Life based on his prior criminal history pic.twitter.com/pP0FcvpEyg
Tatum was driving a white Acura RDX when police tried to pull him over for a traffic stop at around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2020, investigators said. Officers said Tatum fled from the 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, investigators said. Authorities said the force of the crash split the Honda in half, killing DeLeon and Salazar. Tatum was transported to the hospital with minor injuries, investigators said.
A Harris County jury convicted Tatum after a weeklong trial. 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, Ogg said 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, Ogg said.
Assistant 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.
“He 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.”
After the verdict and plea agreement, Ogg said more than two dozen family members who sat through the entire trial wearing buttons with a photo of both victims gathered outside the courtroom to show solidarity. The mothers of the two victims stood together and sobbed as family and friends tried to comfort them, Ogg said.
While Tatum was pulled over by a deputy with Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the crash was handled by the Houston Police Department.
“The 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,” Sean Teare, chief of the District Attorney’s Office’s Vehicular Crimes Division, 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.”