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Defendant Pleads Guilty in 9-Year-Old Boating Fatality
BURNET – Travis Aaron Marburger has pleaded guilty in 33rd Judicial District Court to a third-degree felony charge of failure to stop and render aid involving a fatal accident, ending a nine-year-old case that began with a 2002 boat crash on Lake Buchanan that claimed a Lampasas teenager’s life and injured two others.
“On behalf of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Law Enforcement Division, we are glad to have this case finalized and justice served,” said TPWD Lt. Col. Craig Hunter. “Most importantly we hope it will help bring some closure to the victims and their families after all these long years.”
District Judge Guilford L. Jones accepted the 37-year-old Marburger’s guilty plea and assessed his punishment as a 10-year sentence to Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division; the sentence is probated for 10 years. Marburger will serve 100 days in jail as a condition of probation, pay a $1,500 fine and $7,488.58 in restitution to the families, and will relinquish all hunting and fishing privileges for the duration of his probation.
Courtroom testimony from Marburger was presented today and included a statement of admission from Marburger under oath and victim’s impact statements from the families. Marburger had been indicted by a Burnet county grand jury last year on charges of manslaughter and tampering with evidence.
Game wardens arrested Marburger at his rural residence near Bertram on Dec. 7, 2010 on an unrelated misdemeanor charge. However, Marburger later gave wardens a statement in connection with the then-unsolved Lake Buchanan incident. The following day, game wardens executed a search warrant on Marburger’s Burnet County property to look for the boat.
A tip to TPWD’s Operation Game Thief hotline on Nov. 22, 2010 provided the initial information that led to Marburger.
With assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Burnet County Sheriff’s Department, TPWD investigators using heavy equipment unearthed the hull of a fiberglass boat matching the description of a boat that left the scene of the 2002 Lake Buchanan accident. It had been buried about four feet deep behind a detached carport near Marburger’s house.
“On behalf of the team of Texas game wardens we would like to thank Burnet County Sheriff W.T. Smith and his criminal investigators, District Attorney Sam Oatman and his staff and the Texas Department of Public Safety, especially the Texas Rangers, the Texas Highway Patrol and the DPS Crime Lab,” Hunter said. “Without the assistance and support of these organizations, as well as from the citizen who came forward with information through the Hill Country Area Crime Stoppers, this case would have never been successfully investigated nor prosecuted.”
Justin Wayne Roberts, an 18-year-old Lampasas High School football player, died in the early morning hours of May 3, 2002 when the boat, operated by Marburger struck the boat he and two others occupied. Injured in the crash where 18-year-old Kelly Jean Corbin, Roberts’ girlfriend, and a fellow Lampasas football player, Jim Edward Daniels, then 17.
Corbin and Daniels later told game wardens that they had been out in Daniels’s boat fishing for white bass and were on their way to shore when a boat struck their vessel nearly head on at a high rate of speed. Eight hours passed before wardens found the partially submerged boat. Corbin was the only victim found in the boat. Daniels had been thrown from the boat and was later located floating in the lake, as was Roberts’s body.
Game wardens had recovered pieces of blue fiberglass and gel coat from the victim’s boat and also found blue smears on the clothing of the victims. The boat unearthed on Marburger’s property during the search warrant was identified as a 16-foot Checkmate and had damage consistent with having struck the other boat.
Jim Daniels is now a Texas game warden stationed in King and Knox Counties.
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