The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that blood evidence in the case against former boxer Joel Garcia, who was allegedly drunk when he ran a red light, striking a car carrying three El Pasoans on Christmas Eve 2014 can be used against him, despite an earlier ruling that threw the evidence out.
Garcia is charged with three counts of intoxicated manslaughter in the Christmas Eve crash that killed brothers Joshua and Isaiah Deal and Shannon Del Rio.
The crash happened on Christmas Eve 2014 at the intersection of Joe Battle and Vista Del Sol, 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 killed all three of them.
At issue is whether the blood evidence, which was obtained prior to obtaining a written warrant, was admissible in court. 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.
Telephone records show that responding EPPD Officer Rodriguez called Officer Wilkinson at 2:40 a.m. and again at 2:46 a.m. because he wanted help obtaining the warrant for Garcia’s blood. It took Rodriguez ten to twelve minutes to reach the command station. The court documents outline the process which Officer Rodriguez used to obtain a warrant for Garcia’s blood, which required him to fill out paperwork and travel to the jail magistrate downtown to get it signed. The entire process was estimated to have taken about 20-30 minutes.
The phlebotomist at Del Sol conducted the blood draw on Garcia at 3:17 a.m. and came back with a BAC of .268 – more than 3 times the legal limit. He also tested positive for cocaine metabolites, according to court documents.
Garcia is also facing an additional charge for possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), which was a factor in Chief Justice Ann Crawford McClure’s decision to allow the blood evidence to be included in the trial.
“While his intoxication was induced by alcohol and cocaine metabolites rather than by methamphetamine… inducing intravenous saline or other medication, particularly narcotic medication, would likely compromise the blood sample by impeding the ability to determine the rate of dissipation.” McClure said in her ruling.
A trial date for Garcia has not yet been set.