Jury selection for fiery 2014 Christmas Eve crash scheduled for Friday

Crime

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Jury selection in the nearly five-year-old DWI manslaughter case against former boxer Joel Garcia is finally set to get underway on Friday.

Garcia is charged with three counts of intoxicated manslaughter in the 2014 Christmas Eve crash that killed brothers Joshua and Isaiah Deal and Joshua’s girlfriend, Shannon Del Rio.

The crash happened at the intersection of Joe Battle and Vista Del Sol around 1:30 a.m., where Garcia – who was awaiting trial for a prior DWI arrest – allegedly ran a red light, hitting the car the Deal brothers and Del Rio were riding in. The violent crash caused the Pontiac Grand Am carrying the Deal brothers and Del Rio burst into flames, killing all three of them.

The criminal case against Garica was held up for years in appeals courts after blood evidence drawn after the crash was disputed.

Isaiah Deal, 19, Shannon Del Rio, 22, and Joshua Deal, 23 (Photo: Courtesy)

The State has maintained that Garcia’s injuries as a result of the crash required medical attention and it was necessary to take blood samples before a warrant was obtained due to the fact that medical intervention would have altered the test results.

In the end, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the blood evidence could not be used in the trial against Garcia, saying police drew it without a proper warrant.

Meanwhile, 210th District Judge Gonzalo Garcia placed a gag order on the case in 2016. The Deal and Del Rio families, who were initially vocal in their quest for justice, were required to stay quiet by the rule of the court. Judge Garcia opted out of running for re-election in 2018 and was replaced by Alyssa Perez, who will now preside over the case.

In addition to the three counts of intoxicated manslaughter, Garcia is facing an additional charge of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine). A final hearing and plea deadline are scheduled for Tuesday afternoon with jury selection proceeding Friday in the 210th District Court.

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