Negligent Homicide in Texas

A reader fills me in:

"After your post, I took a quick look around at the Texas criminal code.  Here is the section concerning negligent homicide:

'Sec. 19.05.Criminally Negligent Homicide. 
(a) A person commits an offense if he causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence.

(b) An offense under this section is a state jail felony.
  "Criminal negligence" is defined in Sec. 6.03(d) thusly:

A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor's standpoint.'

From my reading of the statute, a person would be criminally negligent only where their conduct was grossly negligent under the circumstances. It isn't a subjective standard, so it doesn't matter whether Cheney knew that what he was doing was particularly dangerous. It would be enough if a reasonable person would realize that his actions would create a substantial risk of harm. Given the facts that we have heard concerning the White House so far, Mr. Cheney's conduct would probably not amount to criminal negligence. But without more facts, who knows? At this point, I would think that Texas officials should be investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting, to find out what actually occurred. I can understand, though, why Mr. Cheney has clammed up till this point. How many public statements would you like to make if you knew they could be introduced as evidence against you in a possible criminal trial?"

Thanks for the info.