‘Road rage’ murder trial set to begin next week

The state and the defense for a man accused of murder in a road rage incident announced they were ready to proceed with trial beginning next week.

Fabian Paredes, with his attorney Terry Canales by his side, announced Friday morning they were ready to begin trial in connection with an October 2017 incident that left one man dead.

Paredes, of Edinburg, sporting a walking cane, and a surgical mask during his appearance in court, spoke only briefly during what is likely to be the final hearing before his trial is set to begin next week.

The 33-year-old man, who remains free on bond pending his trial, was arrested along with his wife, Jillian Rae Hanson-Paredes, on Oct. 13, 2017, several days after he and his wife were involved in a shooting near the Hidalgo County Courthouse in what police said was a “road rage” incident.

Four days earlier, on Oct. 9, 2017, at about 4:30 p.m. Edinburg police responded to a report of a major accident near the intersection of 10th Avenue and West McIntyre Street.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found a white passenger vehicle that had apparently jumped the curb and crashed into a light pole. When they approached the vehicle, they found Joshua David Sanchez, 27, suffering from one gunshot wound to his upper torso.

Police said Sanchez died en route to the hospital.

It would be a week before the police arrested the couple after officers pieced together bits of evidence and were able to locate the vehicle and the home where the Paredes lived. Police watched the home until they located the suspects.

During their interview with police, Paredes admitted to shooting at Sanchez.

Police said Paredes, driving a red in color pickup truck, with his wife as a passenger, was arguing with an adult male, later identified as Sanchez, driving a white passenger vehicle, and subsequently fired a weapon in the direction of Sanchez resulting in his death.

Investigators believe Paredes used a 9mm handgun to shoot Sanchez before fleeing the scene.

Sanchez, 27, a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, who had recently moved to Texas, was leaving his job at Whataburger when the incident took place, according to a relative who was at Paredes’ arraignment.

The single father left behind two young children under the age of 7, the relative told The Monitor in October 2017.

At the time of their arrest, a municipal judge also charged Hanson-Paredes with murder because she was in the vehicle with Paredes, but the DA’s office ultimately didn’t send her case to a grand jury and only her husband faces the felony charge.

Canales told the court that Paredes’ wife would likely not be able to testify in person due to her current medical condition, but asked the court to consider sworn depositions and video recorded interviews from her.

The state announced Friday morning, inside the 93rd state District Court, that it would be executing a subpoena for Hanson-Paredes to be ready to appear to testify during the trial.

But Paredes said his wife, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in April of this year, is in the hospital with a “grapefruit-sized mass” on her chest, and has been there since her diagnosis.

The two sides also took up lingering issues, including the turning over of discovery to the defense — specifically video evidence that included roughly 400 gigabytes of data gathered by the police, and hard drives recovered from Paredes’ home after his arrest. There also appears to be dashcam video, and other items that are still pending.

The state formally turned over some of that discovery that was in question during the hearing.

The other issue taken up Friday morning was the state’s motion to amend the indictment against Paredes, a motion Canales objected to during the hearing.

“…They just have to prove that he recklessly did something — that changes the burden of proof for the state drastically, judge. The third way you can prove murder is through an underlying felony, and what they’re going to say (is) deadly conduct,” Canales said.

Canales argued that by amending the indictment to include deadly conduct, the state is attempting to lower its burden of proof, arguably setting up an easier path to a conviction against his client.

Canales said this motion would hurt his client on the eve of the beginning of the trial.

“… Deadly conduct can be proven by reckless conduct, that lowers the state’s burden, and to do that, judge, is an absolute prejudice to the defense, who for two years has been preparing for trial,” Canales said. “So now the standard has become reckless, because reckless proves deadly conduct, and deadly conduct, which is a felony, proves murder for their underlying element of that offense.”

In addition to those aforementioned arguments, and motions, the defense elected to have Mancias hand down the punishment if the jury convicts Paredes.

Ultimately, and after the hearing, state District Judge Fernando Mancias granted the state’s motion to amend the indictment, records show.

Jurors will have to determine if Paredes “intentionally, or knowingly” caused the death of Sanchez when he fired his gun in Sanchez’s direction.

The trial, which will begin after jury selection Monday, is expected to run through the end of the day Friday, according to the state.