Capital murder trial underway for Texarkana man accused of killing two boys in highway crash


NEW BOSTON, Texas: A jury was selected and testimony began Tuesday in the capital murder trial of a man accused of intentionally causing a head-on crash that killed two young children last year in DeKalb, Texas.

Zachary Blaise Salazar, 22, was allegedly upset over a disagreement with his pregnant girlfriend and had threatened to wreck his pickup truck on purpose moments before he smashed into a minivan on U.S. Highway 82 in DeKalb on the night of Jan. 13. Two young boys, Riley Burgess, 7, and James Crowley, 3, were killed in the crash.

During opening statements Tuesday afternoon, First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said Salazar could have chosen to wreck into a tree if his goal was to kill himself but instead hit a minivan occupied by a family. Texarkana defense attorney Jeff Harrelson said accidents involving loss of life happen daily but don’t mean a crime has been committed.

Salazar had been arguing with his girlfriend via Facebook Messenger and had allegedly threatened he would kill himself or someone else. After the girlfriend blocked Salazar from her account, he allegedly showed up at her residence 45 minutes later, according to a probable cause document.

When made to leave by his girlfriend’s mother, Salazar allegedly said, “Fuck it, I’ll go wreck.”

The girlfriend and her mother heard sirens a short time later and traveled to the crash scene where they informed members of law enforcement about Salazar’s alleged threats.

Witnesses reported that Salazar was traveling eastbound at a high rate of speed with his vehicle’s bright lights activated. The driver of the van reportedly tried to pull to the side of the road to avoid a collision.

If convicted, Salazar faces life without the possibility of parole. The state is not seeking the death penalty.

Texarkana attorney Jeff Harrelson is representing Salazar. First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards are prosecuting. 202nd District Judge John Tidwell is presiding.

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