Court defers prison time for San Juan man in deadly accident case

EDINBURG — A court will allow a San Juan man who struck and killed a bicyclist in late 2017 to serve 90 days in jail before being released on an eight-year deferred adjudication.

That decision from the court came Wednesday during Andrew Isaiah Villarreal’s sentencing hearing.

The 22-year-old man’s attorney, O. Rene Flores, put some items on the record prior to the sentencing, most importantly the results of a drug test administered Dec. 17, 2019, after the last drug test came back positive for cocaine that led to Villarreal’s bond being revoked temporarily.

Flores said that result was in fact a false positive; but the new result, which covers a period of 90 days going back to Sept. 17, did not account for a positive result in August, the state’s prosecutor, Andrew Almaguer, told the court.

Regardless, the court advised Villarreal before it made its ruling, that this deferred adjudication is a much more stringent path to have the case dismissed.

That’s because just one violation during the eight-year period, whether for a drug test violation, another arrest, or other violation of the terms, would trigger the court to sentence Villarreal to serve the 20-year maximum punishment in prison, instead of the five years of prison time the state recommended.

In addition, Villarreal is ordered to pay nearly $8,000 in restitution to De Leon’s family.

Flores also put on the record that Villarreal has had issues as a result of the crash that took place more than two years ago, including issues with depression and anxiety, to name a few.

Villarreal pleaded guilty in October 2019 to a charge of accident involving death for striking and killing 42-year-old De Leon on Sept. 25, 2017 in the 2000 block of North Raul Longoria Road in San Juan.

According to the probable cause affidavit for Villarreal’s arrest, a police officer traveling north in the 2000 block of North Raul Longoria Road at 12:12 a.m. noticed a vehicle go around an object in the roadway.

When the officer went to investigate, he discovered “the lifeless body of a male subject wearing blue jeans and an orange T-shirt facing down.”

De Leon had been riding a black and neon green bicycle, the document stated.

“Andrew told Officer he had collided with an unknown object on the road on the area of Raul Longoria Rd passing Sioux Road,” the document stated.

A passenger in his vehicle told authorities that they thought they may have hit a dog.

“Andrew indicated he had smoked marijuana and ingested a ‘school bus’ street name for Xanax earlier in the day,” the document stated.

According to records, Villarreal had his bond revoked in 2018 after he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.

Before the ruling, De Leon’s relatives could be seen sobbing quietly; and left immediately after the ruling came down. Through a Hidalgo County liaison, the family declined to give a statement.

Villarreal’s family, who sat in the front row of the audience, were allowed to hug Villarreal before he was placed in custody and led out of the courtroom.

Flores said in a case like the one involving his client, there are no winners.

“It’s a tragedy all the way around,” Flores said as he exited the courtroom. “It’s not fair to either party.”