Tyler man gets 17 years for 2021 fatal car crash
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A Tyler man found guilty in the 2021 death of a passenger in his car will serve nearly 20 years in prison.
Sentencing began Monday afternoon for Juan Jesus Juarez, 24, who was found guilty last month in the death of Marco Antonio Lopez Penado who died in the backseat of Juarez’s car after Juarez drove the vehicle through a fence.
The sentencing portion began with the state calling a detective with the Tyler Police Department to the stand. The opening line of questioning centered on whether Juarez was a member of a gang. The detective said, based on criteria such as identifying tattoos and self-admission, Juarez would be considered the member of a gang.
The defense then asked the detective if they had reviewed Juarez’s criminal history, talked to Juarez or seen any of Juarez’s recorded interview. The detective said they had not.
The defense then called Juarez’s sister to the stand. She talked about their childhood and how their parents worked multiple jobs. She confirmed that Juarez has had a problem with alcohol since he was 17. She said she did not know that Juarez’s three dot tattoo was indicative of him being in a gang. Juarez’s sister also stated that Juarez has two children, one age five and the other nearly three years old. She said she became aware that her brother began using marijuana about three or four years ago.
The state said it would ask for a 20 year sentence.
The defense disputed the claims that Juarez is in a gang simply because of his tattoos, adding that Juarez is eligible for probation. The defense said that while he doesn’t expect probation, he doesn’t believe Juarez deserves a 20 year sentence and asked the court to consider the full range of punishment.
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