Court upholds conviction of Victoria man who rammed his car into others

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Jan. 10, 2013 at 7:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 10, 2013 at 7:11 p.m.

Justices for the 13th Court of Appeals affirmed Thursday the conviction of a Victoria man in prison for ramming his car into others on a highway.

A jury sentenced Benjamin Ibarra, 25, to eight years in prison and fined him $1,000 each for the two aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one endangering a child charges listed in the February indictment. The sentences will run concurrently.

This came after jurors found Ibarra guilty of driving behind his ex-girlfriend on Port Lavaca Highway on March 14, 2011, and hitting her car. Then, witnesses said, Ibarra pulled in front of her car, in which she was carrying a 2-year-old, reversed and hit her from behind. She was traveling about 40 mph.

In a separate incident, Ibarra was also was given 10 years probation and a $1,000 fine each for one aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge and one endangering a child charge. The same indictment alleges that incident occurred 14 days later. The time Ibarra serves in prison is counted toward his probation.

Ibarra said he didn't know the victims in that incident, one of whom is a minor, but they contend they had problems with Ibarra.

Ibarra filed the appeal shortly after the trial ended on the grounds that some witnesses shouldn't be considered experts.

He also said there was insufficient evidence to prove he exhibited a deadly weapon.

Brendan Guy, appellate chief for the Victoria county criminal district attorney's office, said he was not surprised by the justices' ruling. He said the witness in question was a civilian who repaired one of the victim's cars after the fact and was qualified to lend his expertise about paint transfer that would've indicated whether her car had been struck.

"Obviously, the argument was without merit ... He had extensive experience in exactly that kind of damage," Guy said about the man's 17-year career.

Guy said the state had to prove Ibarra, who was not found to be intoxicated at the time of the wrecks, drove the car recklessly for it to be considered a deadly weapon.

Ibarra's attorney, Daniel Vela, of San Antonio, said that's just one thing the prosecution didn't do. He said he respected the justices' ruling.

"Weapons, under Texas Law, can be cars, but you need to use or exhibit them in a deadly manner. You have to have the intent to run somebody over or roll their car over ... We didn't feel that they necessarily showed at the trial that he had that intent."

None of the victims had any lasting injuries, Guy said.

Ibarra has until Jan. 25 to file a motion for a rehearing.



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