By Michelle Guffey
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON A day after finding a Dallas man guilty of manslaughter with a deadly weapon, a Bell County jury sentenced him to five years in prison.
Jose Antonio Tovar, 29, stood trial in Judge Joe Carrolls 27th District Court in connection with the Dec. 16, 2003, deaths of two men.
Marco Rodriguez Delgado, 27, of San Antonio and Jose Delgado, 48, of Mexico were killed while traveling south on Interstate 35 near Salado when a white Honda Accord traveling 70 mph in the northbound lane jumped the median.
The Accord landed atop the Chrysler Sebring convertible that the Delgados rode in, killing them instantly.
The Honda, driven by Scott Wright of Fort Worth, had been forced off the road by Tovars Dodge pickup after Tovar became angry with Wright for cutting him off.
Three witnesses testified during the trial, and all three described the events in the same way. In trying to get around a slow driver in the right lane, Wright cut Tovar off; Tovar became angry, pulled alongside Wright and swerved into the left lane forcing the Honda onto the median.
Tovars attorney, Kirk Lechtenberger of Dallas, during his closing summation Wednesday attempted to shift the focus off Tovar and on to Wright. He commented that the jury couldnt find his client guilty of aggravated assault on Wright because Wright had lied in his deposition.
In a threatrical moment, Lechtenberger turned to the audience and stared at Wright, screaming, You are a liar! He has put the blame on everyone but himself.
In his deposition, Wright originally said that Tovar had been tailgating him for two minutes, but later amended that time, saying it was more like 60-90 seconds.
Prosecutor Cindy Franklin countered in her argument to the jury that the defense ignored the physical evidence and instead focused on Wright.
Everything in the southbound lane is physical evidence of what happened in the northbound side, Franklin said in her closing argument. We have to trust that when we get on the interstate, people arent going to act like rabid dogs.
Tovar was originally charged with two counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but the six-man, six-woman jury took the option of a lesser charge.
Contact Michelle Guffey at firstname.lastname@example.org