Witnesses say Garcia appeared more concerned about his car than crash victims in first day of trial

Crime

Throughout the week, jurors will be hearing from multiple witnesses and determine if this is classified as "intoxicated manslaughter."

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Day one of testimony in the trial of Joel Garcia wrapped up emotionally on Monday afternoon.

Garcia is the local boxer facing intoxication manslaughter charges in the deaths of three young El Pasoans during a crash nearly five years ago.

As KTSM has previously reported, Garcia is being charged with three counts of intoxicated manslaughter from the night of Christmas Eve back in 2014 that killed brothers Joshua and Isaiah Deal, along with Joshua’s girlfriend Shannon Del Rio.

Garcia started the trial by pleading “not guilty” to his case. Throughout the week, jurors will be hearing from multiple witnesses and determine if this is classified as “intoxicated manslaughter.”

Prosecutors told jurors Garcia was drinking and bar hopping at Cincinnati East with a friend before getting behind the wheel. They said Garcia was driving 95 m.p.h. when he slammed into a white car at the intersection of Vista Del Sol and Joe Battle, “This was not an act of God or nature. These were choices that were made that led to this.”

The jury heard from four witnesses on Monday and three of them said inside the courtroom they believed he was drunk the night of the crash.

Testimonies on the first day of the trial came from a police officer, firefighter EMT, and two witnesses at the intersection of Joe Battle and Vista Del Sol the night of the crash.

Witnesses Jennifer Loera and Estela Renteria said they were stopped at the red light when Loera noticed a grey Camaro speeding by, passing a red light, and eventually T-boning a white car that had the green light on Vista Del Sol.

Both witnesses said they remembered the cars immediately going up in flames, and that’s when Loera called 9-1-1.

During the call, Loera and Renteria said they were hysterical and cussing out the driver, who was identified as Garcia in the courtroom.

Witnesses said Garica was more worried about his car, eventually telling the passenger riding with him, “Let’s go! Let’s go!”

At court, both Loera and Renteria said he appeared drunk and intoxicated. However, written police statements given to police the night of the crash did not mention the driver appeared drunk.

One of the witnesses was a patrol officer at the Pebble Hills Regional Command during the time of the crash. Officer Jacob Kiesel said, while on the scene, he noticed two women hysterically yelling at Garcia saying, “You can’t leave! You did this!”

Officer Kiesel then indicated Garcia was a possible “flight risk” because he was looking in all directions and pacing back and forth. Garcia did not reportedly leave the scene that night.

Firefighter James Gunther who also responded to the scene said Garcia admitted to having 5 beers and 3 shots before the crash.

Gunther testified he believed Garcia was intoxicated because of the smell of alcohol on his breath.

The trial will proceed without Garcia’s interview with police while in custody and without his blood-alcohol sample.

A previous judge ruled the blood was drawn without a proper warrant.

Court will reconvene on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. with different witnesses that will take the stand including those working at the bar’s Garcia and his friend were at before the deadly crash.

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