SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – A Tyler man was convicted on Friday in a fatal hit and run crash from 2021.
A Smith County jury in the 114th District Court concluded that Juan Juarez, 24, was guilty of an accident involving death, according to the Smith County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.
On Jan. 23, 2021, Juarez drove his car with his two friends inside after they had drinks, authorities said.
“While drunk, speeding, and not paying attention Juarez drove through a T-intersection in a residential area,” the DA’s office said.
The vehicle reportedly went over a curb and crashed into two metal fences. The fence broke through the windshield and impaled Marco Antonio Lopez-Penado, who was a passenger in the back, said Jacob Putman, the Smith County Criminal District Attorney.
Juarez was not injured by the fence, but Lopez-Penado later succumbed to his injuries. Authorities said Juarez walked away from the scene.
Police later found Juarez, and they said he told them the car had been stolen. Tyler Police detectives used DNA evidence and witnesses to determine that Juarez was at the scene, the DA’s office said.
Juarez reportedly admitted that he was at the scene after he was arrested, and he said he did not know the severity of Lopez-Penado’s injuries.
Juarez will be sentenced at a later time.
Prosecutors Emil Mikkelsen and Angela Faulkner presented evidence in this case.