Teen driver of fatal accident may be tried as an adult
The teen allegedly behind the wheel in a deadly crash that killed nine illegal immigrants last April went before an Hidalgo County district judge Monday who will decide if he will be tried as an adult.
If tried as an adult, the 16-year-old boy could face up to 99 years in prison.
If he is tried as a juvenile, his max penalty would be 40 years.
Cases like these are rare. Because he is still listed as a juvenile the prosecuting attorney asked no cameras be taken inside the courtroom.
The defendant was 15 at the time of the accident and has been charged with murdering nine individuals while committing the felony of human smuggling.
In his opening arguments, the defense attorney Jaime Aleman argued the boy can be rehabilitated in the juvenile system.
Aleman briefly explained the boy has had a rough life, is one of 11 kids and has struggled in school but that he has been fully cooperative while in juvenile detention.
Pertaining to last April TMs incident, Aleman said that the boy was threatened to participate in the smuggling and that it was no premeditated act, it was an act of impulse.
Two witnesses testified in court Monday.
The Border Patrol agent who was first to arrive on the scene of the accident was the first to take the stand.
The agent shared detailed information about what happened that night and how he ended up at the scene, testifying there was no pursuit or anything done by a law enforcement officer to cause the crash.
The lead investigator with Palmview Police Department also testified as to what he saw the night of the accident.
The detective read the statement the defendant gave police after he was arrested.
In the statement the boy said he was threatened to drive the van full of illegal immigrants or that his family would be killed.
In the statement the boy also said he did not remember the crash and did not know anyone had died until he saw the news the next day.
More witnesses will be heard tomorrow including the testimony of the boy's mother.