A man charged with two counts of first-degree manslaughter for the deaths of two people in an automobile accident was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Jesus Garcia Jr., 22, Mesquite, Texas, was charged Sept. 3, 2013, after an August crash in Calera that killed Skyla Leigh Fisher, 13, and her mother, Kelly Jean Spielman, 33, both of Arlington, Texas.
He entered a blind plea of guilty March 31, which meant no plea bargain was offered and sentencing would be determined by a judge.
During a sentencing hearing Wednesday, Bryan County District Judge Mark Campbell sentenced Garcia to 25 years in prison, suspending the last five years and giving him credit for time served.
According to Calera Police, the crash happened at the Highway 69/75 and McKinley Avenue stoplight when a pickup driven southbound by Garcia ran the stop light and hit Spielman’s car as it crossed the intersection. Fisher died at the scene and Spielman later died at a hospital.
Spielman’s young son, Riley Spielman, was seriously injured but survived the crash and is now confined to a wheelchair. The crash also killed two of the three dogs that were in the car.
In a Victim Impact Statement provided to the court, Paul J. Spielman wrote about the loss of his wife, stepdaughter and the crippling injuries to his son.
“The shock and horror will remain with me, burned into my memory forever,” Spielman wrote. “The defendant’s careless actions catapulted my once happy life into a black hole of depression, anxiety, grief, fear, anger, nightmares and sleep loss … . Prior to the defendant carelessly ripping my family apart, Riley and I were constant buddies … going fishing, golfing, bowling, playing catch every day; seeing the sparkle in Riley’s eyes as he played golf in the backyard, mischievously sending that golf ball toward a window. We will never experience that happiness again.
“I mourn the loss of my family on a daily basis and my heart aches for the indescribable hurdles that Riley and I will face for the rest of our lives. We will continue to have family gatherings and celebrations, once joyous and festive occasions, now overshadowed because there are empty chairs.”
Garcia was charged with felony first-degree manslaughter because he had been driving in a reckless manner prior to the crash by traveling across the southbound lanes of traffic and into the right-turn lane before his pickup, which was traveling at highway speeds, hit Spielman’s car.
Matt Swearengin can be reached at 924-4388 or DDDEditor@Twitter.com.