Jurors see car from HPD officer's death

HOUSTON - Jurors were shown the car that a drunk illegal immigrant was driving when he slammed into an HPD officer, killing him.

Johoan Rodriguez, 27, pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter.

Prosecutors showed jurors the Volkswagen Beetle driven by Rodriguez when he slipped past a police barricade on the North Loop and fatally struck officer Kevin Will last year.

HPD officers towed the vehicle to the Houston courthouse so the jury could get a closer look.

"This was the killing instrument in this case and is simply something you can't appreciate by looking at pictures -- just how severe the damage was and just how hard the impact was," said prosecutor Catherine Evans.

Jurors also got a glimpse of the empty 12-pack of beer in the front seat which was in the car at the time of the crash.

"This isn't one over -- this isn't one too many," said Evans. "This was an egregious lapse of judgment somebody who is severely impaired more than two times over the legal limit and drinking in the car."

The defense objected and didn't want the jury to see the car on Wednesday saying Rodriguez has already pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

"I would say this is sensational and piling on," said defense attorney Rick De Toto. The state is bringing out everything but the kitchen sink. I think they are going to bring up when he went to detention in 3rd grade to show he's a bad guy."

Seven men and five women will decide Rodriguez's fate. The possible punishment ranges from probation to life in prison.

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