A woman who suffered a severe brain injury in car crash that happened five years ago received closure in that criminal case.
Hector Delaney Garcia – pleaded guilty this afternoon to aggravated assault and evading arrest charges.
His case had been delayed a number of times, and was one of thousands of unresolved criminal cases clogging up the judicial system. KRIS 6 News has covered the Nueces County criminal backlog problem in series of previous stories.
Earlier today – in a surprise decision defendant Hector Delaney Garcia accepted a plea deal on charges of aggravated assault and evading arrest.
Garcia’s charges are from the night of Dec. 13, 2013 when he was involved in a high-speed police chase and crashed into oncoming traffic.
The moment of impact was caught on a police dash camera.
The crash left Amber Cervantes with a traumatic brain injury. She was in a vehicle traveling on south staples street when Garcia’s jeep crossed through the intersection at Curtis Clark drive.
One court delay after another made her suffering worse during the past years as she fought to have the case resolved. Those delays were driven by Garcia who at a hearing earlier today was on his 6th attorney.
And during docket call, Garcia’s attorney Gabriel Vasquez asked that he be removed from the case – at Garcia’s request.
The judge denied the motion, and explained why to Garcia.
“We’re not going to play this game again of on again, off again,” said Judge Jack Hunter, a visiting judge for the 148th Nueces County District Court. “It’s set for trial 9 a.m. Monday morning.”
After the hearing, Cervantes said she was hopeful the case could be resolved.
“Today, I had more of a sense of relief just with the visiting judge,” she said. “He seemed to not take any of the excuses and delay tactics.”
And in a surprise move – three hours later – the judge set another hearing in the case. This time it was a plea hearing.
“How do you plea to those charges? Guilty or not guilty?” the judge asked Garcia.
“Guilty,” he responded.
The guilty plea came with an agreement to serve eight years in prison. It was a deal Garcia had rejected just hours earlier.
And then – the judge called on Cervantes to tell Garcia how she felt.
“I want you to know today I am making a conscious decision to forgive you and it will be a choice I continue to make because this is not a one-time event,” she said, during her victim impact statement.
The judge allowed Garcia to respond.
“I’m sorry. My intentions that night were not to hurt you at all – not to hurt anybody,” he said “I’m sorry.”
While Garcia agreed to serve 8 years in prison, he will remain free for the next two weeks. The judge allowed that because of child care issues and a family illness. Garcia’s sentencing is set for Oct. 31.
Asked whether the delayed sentence is another delay tactic, state prosecutor Holt Feemster said he does not believe it is and agreed to it as part of the plea deal.
The judge advised Garcia to remain out of trouble and not to miss his sentencing date. Garcia has a history of failing to appear in court for hearings, according to court records.