TYLER, Texas — A Tyler man was found guilty Friday of driving while drunk, crashing into a fence that impaled one of his friends in the car to death and then fleeing the scene in January 2021.
In the 114th District Court, jurors found Juan Jesus Juarez, 24, guilty of accident involving death in connection with a fatal Jan. 23, 2021 wreck.
According to the Smith County District Attorney's Office, Juarez drove his vehicle with two friends as passengers after a night of drinking. Juarez, who officials say was drunk, was speeding and not paying attention, drove through a T-intersection on West Queen Street and North Tenneha Ave. in a residential area.
He drove the vehicle over a curb and through two metal fences, the DA's office said. Part of the fence busted through the window and the driver's seat missing Juarez and impaling the back seat passenger, Marco Antonio Lopez-Penado.
Lopez-Penado later died from his injuries and despite his injuries, Juarez fled from the wreck. Once he was found, Juarez claimed the car was stolen, the DA's office statement read.
Using DNA and eyewitness testimony, police detectives placed Juarez at the scene. After getting arrested, he admitted to being there but claimed he didn't know how injured Lopez-Penado was, according to the statement.
Judge Austin Reeve Jackson will decide sentencing on March 6, according to judicial records.