A Victoria defendant accused of fleeing from police attempted a “dead mother defense,” a prosecutor said to jurors.
“I never thought I’d see that,” said Assistant District Attorney Arnold Hayden during his closing arguments for the felony trial on Wednesday.
The defendant’s claim that his deceased mother was responsible for the crimes was both ridiculous and wrong, Hayden said.
In the end, jurors did not buy the claim, returning a guilty verdict and enhanced habitual-offender prison sentence for Jose Reyes Romero, 39, on Wednesday.
Romero faced charges of evading arrest or detention with a vehicle and manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance between 1-4 grams.
He was accused of fleeing from police before dawn on Feb. 26 after they attempted to pull him over for driving without headlights on, according to a news release from the Victoria County District Attorney’s Office.
Romero led police on a low-speed vehicle pursuit through Victoria, eventually crashing into a staircase at a home in the 1000 block of Ash Street.
Hayden said Romero was living there with his mother at the time. She died less than a year after his arrest.
When police caught up with Romero, they found him sitting by the crashed vehicle near the stairs.
In a shaving kit found in the vehicle, police found methamphetamine, a digital scale, plastic baggies and a prison ID card belonging to Romero.
Romero’s attorney Keith Weiser said to jurors that it was entirely plausible that police arrested Romero mistakenly. Weiser pointed out numerous statements from authorities that he said expressed doubt about whether Romero was driving.
“’I am pretty sure it was him,’” said Weiser, quoting an officer. “Is that beyond a reasonable doubt?”
As for the prison ID card found with the meth, Weiser said his client had given it to his mother as a keepsake.
“Just because an ID is in a car, doesn’t mean a person is in a car,” Weiser said.
But Hayden said that claim made little sense.
Instead, the prosecutor asked jurors to consider how likely it was that the man’s mother was driving a hot-wired vehicle that was filled with trash “in the middle of the night.”
“This is subterfuge,” he said.
Jurors took a little more than two hours to return a guilty verdict.
The jury spent a little more than an hour to return an enhanced 60-year prison sentence for Romero.
Romero has prior convictions for aggravated robbery, assault family violence and three DWIs.