Two vehicles involved in a deadly crash that left two Harlingen women dead, were parked in front of the Cameron County Courthouse Wednesday, and jurors in the intoxication manslaughter trial of Jose Junior Lincoln were allowed to walk around and look at the damaged vehicles.
Authorities allege Lincoln, 42, the driver of the white pickup truck, was intoxicated when his truck crashed with a gray Ford Edge occupied by Minerva Partida, 51, and her daughter, Ashley, 27, killing the two women instantly in the July 13, 2020, accident that occurred in Harlingen. The mother and daughter had just driven down to the Stars Drive-In on Tyler Street to get ice cream.
Lincoln is charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter at two counts of manslaughter. He is out on a $50,000 bond.
Judge Ricardo M. Adobatti, of the 404th state District Court, explained to the jurors what they were seeing and allowed them to walk around the vehicles, that were blocked off with yellow crime scene tape.
Lincoln, and his defense attorneys Rolando David Cantu and Victoria Muniz, also watched the jurors, as did Ruben Partida, Minerva’s husband, and Ashley’s dad.
Stephanie Franke and Adela Kowalski-Garza, assistant district attorneys with the Cameron County District Attorney’s office, also watched the jurors as they walked around looking at the crashed the vehicles.
During Wednesday’s testimony Harlingen police detective Joel Avalos, who was a patrol officer and the investigating officer at the time the accident occurred, testified he found two empty 12-ounce cans of Dos Exquis beers near the left passenger door of the vehicle. An additional two more 24-ounce cans were found in the bed of the truck, Avalos testified.
When asked, he testified that he did not know whether if they were old beer cans. “I observed them, I didn’t want to tamper with them; move things around.”
Avalos testified that since he had found several beer cans at the accident scene and the severity of the crash, he believed the accident may have been alcohol related and made the decision to investigate it as a DWI accident.
When he asked Lincoln if he had been speeding Lincoln replied he was driving between 35 to 40 mph, Avalos testified.
When he questioned Lincoln if he had been drinking, he replied “no,” Avalos testified.
Lincoln’s “no” reply contradicted what his attorney said during opening statements that Lincoln had been at the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar earlier in the day and had consumed several beers with family members over a six-hour period and was drinking in moderation.
The accident happened at 11 p.m. at the intersection of Tyler Avenue and Eye Street in Harlingen.
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.
Lincoln said he had been cut off by a white Camaro that was also traveling on Tyler Street which resulted in him crashing with the SUV the Partida’s were riding in.
After the accident, an ambulance transported Lincoln to the hospital because he had suffered a non-life-threatening cut to the head, authorities testified.
Avalos testified that he did not perform a field sobriety test on Lincoln because the man had suffered a cut to the head, and he did not know if Lincoln suffered head trauma. He testified that head traumas can sometimes create a false positive on the test.
Avalos testified that when he questioned Lincoln at the hospital, he noticed the man had blood shot eyes, droopy eyes and slurred speech which led him to believe Lincoln was intoxicated and he placed him under arrest.
Cantu asked Avalos that wasn’t it possible that Lincoln had blood shot eyes because he had been involved in a severe accident and was crying. “Did you know if he was crying? Did you see him crying at the scene of the accident? “I did not see him cry at the scene of the accident,” Avalos testified.
Avalos testified that as he was booking Lincoln into the city jail, Lincoln told him “I was ruining his DPS career,” but was not allowed to provide further comment after an objection was made in the case.
Jeremy Rodriguez, who was working at Applebee’s at the time and was Lincoln’s server/waiter, testified that he served Lincoln four Dos Exquis Big Brewtus 20 oz beers from 3:35 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on July 13.
Although he testified that Applebee’s drink limits are three per person, he said he let Lincoln have fourth one because he wasn’t finishing them, leaving about ¼ left in each glass because Lincoln said the beers were getting hot. Rodriguez also testing that Lincoln ordered appetizers and a hamburger that he consumed them.
Rodriguez also testified that his shift ended at 5 p.m. and that around 7:12 p.m. Lincoln ordered another Big Brewtus. He was being waited on by a different server.