orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Local News

October 26, 2010

Keel receives two 5-year sentences for manslaughter

Beaumont — A Nederland man was sentenced to two 5-year prison sentences for the 2008 deaths of two teens.

Glen Allen Keel III, 26, pleaded guilty to the deaths of Bethany “Bliss” Payne, 18, of Bridge City and Jacquelyn Branch, 19, of Nederland in Judge John Stevens’ courtroom earlier this week.

Branch was crossing Helena Avenue at North 14th Street in Nederland at about 11:38 p.m. Dec. 1, 2008 when Keel, who was traveling eastbound on Helena, struck Branch’s car. The investigation showed Keel was driving in excess of 90 mph when he struck Branch’s car. The speed limit on Helena Avenue is 30 mph., according to an indictment issued in August 2009.

Branch’s car was struck on the driver’s side and pushed into an oak tree.     

Justice of the Peace Vi McGinnis pronounced Branch dead at Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth and Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam pronounced Payne dead at the Medical Center of Southeast Texas.

Hours before the teens died they were at Ashlie Trahan’s Groves home playing Madden Football, according to a Port Arthur News archive story.

Branch worked at the Sonic Drive-in on Nederland Avenue and Trahan was her manager.

The Trahan home was the go-to place for the teens who worked at the Sonic and for their friends. Trahan said, in a story that ran in the Dec. 2, 2008 edition of The News, she’d see the girls at work then come home and they’d be plopped on the couch watching television or playing video games.

Branch was a 2007 graduate of Nederland High School and was a member of the choir.

Payne was a 2008 graduate of Bridge City High school, where she was an award-winning cheerleader. Hair Stylist for Regis in Central Mall. She was the daughter of Bridge City Police Officer Jon Payne.

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