Testimony begins in intoxication manslaughter trial

Jose Junior Lincoln, left, stands as the jury hearing his intoxication manslaughter case enter the 404th state district courtroom Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 20, 2022. The case is being tried before Judge Ricardo M. Adobatti. (Laura Martinez/The Brownsville Herald)

Ruben Partida bowed down his head as he listened to details of how his wife and daughter were killed the night of July 13, 2020, by an alleged drunk driver in Harlingen.

Jose Junior Lincoln, 42, the alleged drunk driver, used his hands to partially cover his face as the autopsy photos of Minerva Partida, 51, and her 27-year-old daughter, Ashley, the victims, were shown in a courtroom.

Some of the photos of the mother and daughter were graphic, as they were taken right after the gray Ford Explorer, they were riding in was struck by a Ford pickup truck driven by Lincoln. “That doesn’t look like Mini,” a relative of Ruben Partida whispered to him.

Testimony began Tuesday in Lincoln’s intoxication manslaughter trial being tried and heard before 404th state District Judge Ricardo M. Adobatti.

The accident happened sometime before 11 p.m. July 13, 2020, at the intersection of Tyler Avenue and Eye Street in Harlingen. Authorities said they women had driven to a Stars Drive-in to get ice cream.

Harlingen police said Lincoln was drunk as he drove eastbound on Tyler and struck a gray SUV at the intersection. The force of crash caused the truck to roll over and lose its front tires, police said.

Dr. Elizabeth Miller, a forensic pathologist for Cameron County, who performed the autopsies on the Partidas said both women died from blunt force trauma. “It would have a relatively quick death,’’ Miller replied when asked by Stephanie Franke, an assistant district attorney with the county’s District Attorney’s office, how long the women suffered.

In opening statements, Franke said Lincoln had drunk eight 25-ounce beers in a matter of six hours on the night of July 13, 2020, before getting inside his truck that later collided with the SUV, killing the mother and daughter.

Frankie said Lincoln had been racing another vehicle on Tyler Street, driving at 80 miles per hour.

“He carelessly ran a red light and plowed into their vehicle, killing them in the most horrific way,” she said.

The other vehicle was identified as a white Chevrolet Camaro that was also seen driving down Tyler Avenue at a high rate of speed.

Defense attorney Rolando David Cantu said although Lincoln had been drinking beer, it was being consumed over a six-hour period. He was with relatives at the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar on Tyler Street.

“He drank in moderation. He was not slamming shots” of alcohol, Cantu said.

He said Lincoln agreed to blood tests that would show if he had been drinking and that his blood alcohol limit was .084.

Cantu said a second test or retest was administered and Lincoln’s BAC came back at .076.

According to Cantu, Lincoln told him that a white Camero came out and cut him off and that is when he collided with the Explorer.

Cantu and Adela Kowalski-Garza, another assistant DA, questioned Harlingen police officer Humberto Herrera, one of the first officers to arrive at the scene, as to whether Lincoln appeared intoxicated at the time of the accident.

Herrera testified to Cantu that he was not looking for signs of intoxication when he arrived at the scene. He wanted to know if anyone had been injured. “I was more concerned about anyone else being trapped inside the vehicle.”

Herrera also testified that Lincoln did try to run away when questioned by police and that he “was being very cooperative.” Lincoln provided him with his driver’s license number because he didn’t have the ID on him, Herrera testified.

Herrera further testified that he could not look into Lincoln’s eyes, to see if there were any signs of intoxication, because the man was sitting on the down and the officer was standing up.

Kowalski-Garza brought up the fact that because the accident happened during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and pandemic protocols were in place, the officer would have been required to stand 6 feet away from Lincoln and would have been wearing a face mask and would not have been able to smell alcohol on Lincoln’s breath since he was standing far away from him and wearing a facial covering.

Herrera testified that he was standing far away from Lincoln and that he was wearing a face mask.

Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday.