A 22-year-old man accused of hitting and killing a college student who was working his car on the side of the highway entered a not guilty plea Thursday to accident involving death.
Mauro Esparza made his first appearance since his Sept. 5 indictment in Auxiliary Court, authorities confirmed.
Mission police say Mauro fatally struck 22-year-old Jesus Eduardo Zamudio in the 900 block of West Interstate 2 on July 27 after a night of drinking in downtown McAllen with his cousin, Ruby Esparza, who is also charged in the case.
Ruby is charged with failure to report a felony causing death, a class A misdemeanor, court records indicate. She is scheduled for arraignment on Nov. 1 in County Court at Law No. 8.
The pair initially fled to Mexico, but turned themselves in to authorities nearly two days after the accident.
After his arrest, Mauro told investigators that he and Ruby, who said she was asleep at the time of the accident, were traveling westbound when he hit a KIA Sportage, according to a probable cause affidavit.
“(Mauro Esparza) stated he knew he hit a car but was unaware he hit a pedestrian,” the complaint stated.
Investigators recovered blood, strands of hair and other human tissue from the Mustang police say Mauro drove that night, according to the charging document.
Ruby told police the crash woke her up and when she asked her cousin what happened, Mauro told her he had hit a vehicle, according to the complaint.
Mauro is currently free on a $75,000 bond while Ruby is out on a $5,000 bond.
According to comments on Zamudio’s obituary on Legacy Funeral Home’s website, he was an engineering student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Ala Qubbaj, dean of Engineering at UTRGV, wrote that Zamudio was a great student.
“Jesus was loved by his professors and colleagues. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family during this difficult time,” Qubbaj wrote. “This is also a major loss for all of us at the college of engineering, where we considered Jesus as one of our own kids and looked forward to his graduation next May.”