EDINBURG — Testimony Friday during the intoxication manslaughter trial of a 21-year-old Edinburg man revealed dislocated necks caused the deaths of three family members, including a 3-year-old.
The testimony came from Dr. Norma Jean Farley, a forensic pathologist, who conducted the autopsies of 3-year-old Joshua Powell, his mother, 33-year-old Marci Lou Powell, and his grandmother, 55-year-old Maria Isabel De La Garza.
Marci Lou and De La Garza also suffered fatal blunt force trauma to the head.
The graphic testimony came in the third day of Luis Gonzalez’s trial. He is charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter for the deaths and a count of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injuries.
That charge stems from injuries sustained by then 31-year-old Jeanne Guajardo, who suffered major injuries in the Aug. 9, 2018 crash.
She testified Thursday.
Gonzalez has entered not guilty pleas to the charges and evidence presented in the case showed he had a low level of Xanax in his blood and had not been drinking.
During opening arguments, one of his defense attorneys, Adolfo Alvarez Jr., said Gonzalez had worked a double shift before going out on a date and fell asleep at the wheel near the intersection on Monte Cristo and Closner roads around 9:26 p.m. that day when he veered into the eastbound lane of Monte Cristo Road and hit the vehicle driven by De La Garza.
On Friday, Farley testified that Joshua, Marci Lou and Maria all likely died quickly because when the neck is dislocated just below the base of the skull it causes the heart to stop beating and the lungs to stop breathing.
Jurors also saw graphic autopsy photos of all three, which showed a multitude of injuries the women and the child suffered in the crash, including severe bruising from seatbelts.
At least one juror, who state District Judge Fernando Mancias later addressed as pastor, had visible problems looking at the photos.
As picture after picture were placed on the screen while Farley explained to the jury the injuries contained in the photo, he often held his head down.
However, the trial was cut short Friday after technical problems.
On Monday, the state is expected to call Edinburg Police Department investigator Armando Celedon to the stand.
Celedon was the lead investigator on the case.
The jury will likely see a video-taped, hospital-bed interrogation of Gonzalez taken hours after he was out of surgery.
Gonzalez also suffered serious injuries in the head-on collision.