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Juror removed in sentencing phase of trial for El Paso man convicted of 3 drunk driving deaths

A juror was dismissed Monday during the sentencing phase of trial for an El Paso man convicted of killing three people in a drunk driving crash five years ago.

Juror #12 was removed in the trial of Joel Garcia just as sentencing deliberations were about to get underway. The juror was replaced with an alternate after it was discovered he had posted to social media during the court proceedings, officials said.

The jury, including the juror now dismissed, found Garcia guilty last week of three counts of intoxication manslaughter. Prosecutors said Garcia was drunk and speeding when his car ran a red light on Christmas Eve 2014 and smashed into another car at an east El Paso intersection​​​​​; that crash killed two brothers and a woman in the other car.

Jurors are now set to determine Garcia’s fate on Tuesday after hearing closing arguments on sentencing Monday.

Defense lawyers sought to make a case for placing Garcia on probation, but prosecutors contended he deserved the maximum prison sentence.

“This is not a probation case, each count should be worth 20 years. Garcia deserves to die in a penitentiary, probation is not an option,” the prosecution argued in court.

KVIA 2019

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