Punishment trial today in fatal Port Isabel crash


The punishment trial of Ronnie Huerta, a Mercedes man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a pedestrian-motorcycle crash that caused the death of Elizabeth Sweeten, started Monday with jury selection in Brownsville.

On Tuesday, the jury asked for a one-day continuance, and the trial will resume today with opening statements for the sentencing phase of the trial.

Huerta pleaded guilty to manslaughter in May 13 at the 138th state District Court, the same place where his trial is taking place today.

He had previously pleaded not guilty on Nov. 5, 2018, to manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter in connection to Sweeten’s death. He was rearraigned on the charge of manslaughter in May, when he pleaded guilty, court documents show.

Sweeten died instantly after being struck by a motorcycle on March 4, 2018, The Brownsville Herald reported on Jan. 23.

Huerta’s mangled motorcycle was brought to Brownsville on a utility trailer and parked in front of the courthouse.

According to Port Isabel police, Huerta was speeding on his bike while leaving the Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge, heading into Port Isabel on the night of the crash.

According to police, Huerta had tested positive for alcohol and marijuana in his system at the time of the crash.

Police said the crash happened at 7:30 p.m. in the 100 block of West Queen Isabella Boulevard near the intersection of North Musina Street.

The crash left Huerta with multiple fractures and he was in a coma for several days, according to police who allege he slammed his Suzuki GSX-R1000 into a palm tree on Queen Isabella Boulevard.

Huerta was arrested October 2018 at his Mercedes home.

At the time of his arrest, Huerta was unable to walk.

According to the Texas penal code, manslaughter is a second-degree felony in the state of Texas and can carry a sentence of two to 20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.