EDINBURG — A McAllen man originally charged with murder agreed to a plea deal last week to avoid the possibility of life in prison, according to court records.
Todd Angelo Phelps, 32, agreed last Thursday to a plead guilty to an accident involving death charge, in exchange the state agreed to drop a second count against him, intoxication manslaughter, court records show.
Phelps’ plea stems from a crash that left a Weslaco woman dead when Phelps, who had been drinking with his brother Timothy Bernard Phelps near the downtown bar district in McAllen, encountered the woman and a group of her friends before he ran her over.
Police said the crash took place at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday Nov. 22, 2015, as Phelps, who was driving a SUV Hummer, when the group of women confronted Phelps as a result of a fender bender involving Phelps’ Hummer and a 2014 Ford Focus.
An officer who was behind the two vehicles detailed in an offense report that he saw the Focus drive in front of the Hummer and cut it off, the criminal complaint states.
The officer said that he observed a female who started to bang on the driver’s side window. In an attempt to get away, the Hummer driver reversed, and sped away from the intersection of Dallas Avenue and Bicentennial Boulevard.
“The Hummer then drives forward into the inside lane and begins to accelerate,” the complaint states. “(The officer) begins to follow the Hummer to conduct a traffic stop but sees a female wearing blue jeans come rolling out from underneath the Hummer and realizes the female was just run over.”
The officer, realizing what just took place, stopped his vehicle and rendered aid to the woman — as Phelps drove away from the scene.
Christina Quintela, 26, died a short time later at a local hospital, the report states.
The forensic pathologist who performed Quintela’s autopsy ruled her death a homicide, with severe trauma to her chest area as a result of the vehicle running her over, court records show.
McAllen police, who spoke to Phelps the following day, did not obtain a blood sample from Phelps and were never able to corroborate that he had been drinking that night.
Phelps, an Army vet with several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan according to his attorney Rene A. Flores, was formally charged with murder in connection with Quintela’s death on Jan. 14, 2016, but Flores challenged the assertion that Phelps intended to kill Quintela that night and eventually the state was forced to re-introduce his case to a grand jury.
On Oct. 6, 2016, nearly a year after the incident, a grand jury returned with two counts against Phelps, one count of intoxicated manslaughter with vehicle, and one count of accident involving death, both second-degree felonies, court records show.
His brother Timothy, was charged in the incident as well. He was charged with a Class A misdemeanor for failing to report a felony, pleaded guilty to the charge in January and was released for jail time served, court records show.
Phelps is due back in court Aug. 19 for sentencing, where he could face up to 20 years in prison, according to court records.
This report has been updated to show the victim’s correct name.
Read the Todd Phelps criminal complaint.