21-year-old Luis Gonzalez of Edinburg was found not guilty on all counts by a jury for the August 9, 2018 crash that killed three people. Since Wednesday February 26, Gonzalez has been on trial for intoxication and manslaughter. Killed in the crash were 55-year-old Maria Isabel De La Garza, 33-year-old Marci Lou Powell, and 3-year-old Joshua Powell. Gonzalez was also facing a charge of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury for Jeanna Guajardo, who was injured but survived the crash. Gonzalez admitted to taking a Xanax to calm himself before a date and his defense was that he fell asleep at the wheel following being awake for 36 hours, and that he was not intoxicated.
During the trial, testimony showed that his blood showed a Xanax level of .066, which is an amount that is within guidelines for treatment of general anxiety. Assistant District Attorney Roxanna Salinas said that Gonzalez had bought the Xanax for $3 off of a street dealer. Salinas pointed out that as result of taking the pill three lives were taken and there was serious bodily injury to Jeanna Guajardo. She also added that Gonzalez is not prescribed Xanax and the normal guidelines don’t apply. She showed evidence and eye-witnesses to show that Gonzalez was intoxicated, not asleep. Witnesses claimed they saw Gonzalez swerve and saw flickering lights, but Oscar Vega, a defense attorney, claimed that this was the only evidence the state had to show
Gonzalez was intoxicated but it is not enough to prove beyond a doubt that it was intoxication manslaughter. Salinas stated that after the crash, Gonzalez, despite being pinned in his vehicle with a ruptured spleen, calmly gave a phone number to a stranger. Salinas argued that this was a result of the Xanax, but another defense attorney, Adolfo Alvarez Jr., said that Gonzalez giving the phone number correctly proves he wasn’t intoxicated. Alvarez also stated that Gonzalez didn’t voluntarily give a statement saying he was on Xanax. He also made note of the fact that both cars involved were salvage vehicles not equipped with airbags.
However, Salinas said the only reason that the crash happened was because of the Xanax and Gonzalez’s decision to drive on it. Gonzalez had been in jail for a year and a half before this verdict of not guilty on all counts. Alvarez noted that they believed the police had unfairly taken an interrogation while he was bleeding from his nose at the hospital. Alvarez stated that he believes it was important to hear the other side of the story after Gonzalez had time to heal and reflect.