Jurors find driver in fatal McAllen crash guilty of DWI

EDINBURG — Jurors found a man who killed a person in downtown McAllen in July 2017 guilty after a four-day trial.

After less than three hours of deliberations Monday, jurors found Leonel Martinez Adame guilty of driving while intoxicated, and accident causing injury — the lesser charges Adame faced.

The verdict came Monday after the state and defense presented closing arguments in the case, spending about a half hour each in arguing their respective cases to jurors before the court sent them back to begin deliberations.

Adame is accused of being behind the wheel of a pickup truck in the early morning hours of July 15, 2017, when he struck Kevin Andrade near downtown McAllen.

Adame, who fled the scene of the crash in the moments immediately following impact, eventually cooperated with police.

The state contends the man only cooperated after he was caught by police about a mile and a half away from the scene of the crash.

Adame, who it was determined was slightly over the state’s legal limit of breath alcohol content, told police that the accident happened after he left the Brickhouse in downtown McAllen where he drank four jack and cokes and had three tequila shots with several friends while discussing a business venture over a four-hour period.

When asked about the accident, Adame said, “Somebody just jumped in front of me.”

He then admitted to hitting Andrade, whose blood alcohol was later determined to be .27, more than three times the legal limit.

Asked why he fled, Adame said during his interview with police, “I was just panicked. I was in shock.”

He told the detective that he was focused on the traffic and that the alcohol he consumed didn’t impact his ability to drive.

“I just didn’t see him coming,” Adame said.

Adame also expressed remorse for leaving the scene and asked the detective to tell Andrade’s family he was sorry.

The defense argued throughout the trial that their client didn’t intentionally intend to strike Andrade and that the crash was instead a result of Andrade inexplicably running out into the street.

The state pushed back against that assertion, stating that although they agree the events are tragic, Adame still broke the law when he decided to drive while legally intoxicated.

The state also underscored how Adame is guilty of the other charge, after he failed to stop and render aid after he struck the 21-year-old man.

Adame was facing an intoxication manslaughter charge, but clearly jurors felt the defense made the case for the lesser charge of driving while intoxicated.

Jurors will be back in court Tuesday, for the sentencing phase of the trial, with opening arguments set to begin Tuesday afternoon.

lzazueta@themonitor.com