Trial set to begin in Edinburg man’s triple fatality case

Luis Gonzalez listens to charges of intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault, in relation to a two-vehicle crash that left three people dead on Monte Cristo Road, Aug. 8, 2018, during his arraignment at the Edinburg Municipal Court Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, in Edinburg.

EDINBURG — A 21-year-old Edinburg man officially rejected a plea deal that would have sent him away for 70 years for killing the wife, son and mother-in-law of a Border Patrol employee, setting the stage for a trial.

Luis Gonzalez is charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter over allegations he was under the influence when he crashed his vehicle into one occupied by 33-year-old Marci Lou Powell, 55-year-old Maria Isabel De La Garza and 3-year-old Joshua Devin Powell on the 300 block of East Monte Cristo Road at around 9:26 p.m. on Aug. 9, 2018.

He is also charged with a count of intoxication assault with a vehicle causing serious bodily injury for hurting Jeanna Guajardo in the head-on collision.

Assistant District Attorney Roxanna Salinas offered Gonzalez 20 years on each count of intoxication manslaughter and 10 years for the count of intoxication assault with a vehicle causing serious bodily injuries with the sentences to be stacked, as opposed to being served concurrently.

Gonzalez rejected the plea deal on the advice of his defense attorneys, Adolfo Alvarez Jr. and Oscar Vega.

Testimony during a suppression hearing last year revealed that Gonzalez told police he took a Xanax to calm himself for his second date with a woman in the hours before the fatal crash.

That hearing also revealed that he stayed up all night on Aug. 8, 2018, talking to the woman online and then went to work on the morning of Aug. 9, 2018, and worked until 2 or 3 p.m.

On Monday morning, Salinas said Gonzalez had no alcohol in his system and that he had tested positive for a marijuana metabolite, which doesn’t mean he smoked marijuana that night, just that he had the drug in his system.

He also tested positive for Xanax.

In a video confession shown during the suppression hearing, Gonzalez told police that he hadn’t smoked marijuana in a long time while denying using alcohol.

Jury selection is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday with opening arguments are expected to begin after lunch.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct the time of the incident.