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El Paso man cries in courtroom as prosecution seeks high prison sentence in drunk-driving deaths

An El Paso man convicted of killing three people in a drunk driving crash five years ago broke down and cried during Friday’s sentencing phase of his trial.

As prosecutors told the jury “it was only a matter of time before he killed someone,” Joel Garcia was visibly shaken and cried.

The prosecution pointed out that Garcia had prior alcohol-related convictions dating back years before the deadly incident and asked for a significant prison sentence saying, “the magnitude of the harm that he has caused is incomprehensible.”

Garcia’s defense attorney asked the jury to sentence him to probation, but acknowledged the difficulty of the decision facing them: “It’s a tough decision. It’s gut wrenching.”

Garcia’s sentence could range from two years probation up to 20 years in prison.

Jurors deliberated about eight hours on Thursday before finding Garcia guilty of three counts of intoxication manslaughter by vehicle.

Prosecutors said Garcia was very drunk and his car was traveling at a speed of nearly 100 miles an hour when it ran a red light at the intersection of Joe Battle and Vista Del Sol in east El Paso and struck another car on Christmas Eve in 2014.

Brothers Joshua and Isaiah Deal, along with Shannon Del Rio, were inside the vehicle that was hit and all three died as a result of the fiery crash.

The grandmother of the Deal brothers was among those giving victim impact statements to the court on Friday afternoon as part of the sentencing process.

“Everything died that day,” she told jurors. “Our lives died.”

Testimony in the sentencing phase wrapped up late Friday with character witnesses appearing for Garcia. A decision on sentencing is expected to come Monday.

KVIA ABC-7

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