A man accused of killing two boys, ages 3 and 7, by intentionally crashing his truck into the van they were riding in on Jan. 13 in DeKalb, Texas, entered pleas of not guilty Monday to two counts of capital murder and four counts of aggravated assault.
Zachary Blaise Salazar, 21, was arraigned on the charges at a hearing before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell. Texarkana defense attorney Jeff Harrelson is representing Salazar.
First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp announced that the state will not seek a death sentence for Salazar because of his history of mental illness. If found guilty of capital murder in the death of either of the boys Salazar will face life without parole.
Salazar faces 2 to 20 years on each of the aggravated assault charges.
Salazar 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 van 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.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Salazar had been arguing with his girlfriend via Facebook Messenger and had 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.
When made to leave by a member of the girlfriend’s family, Salazar allegedly said, “Fuck it, I’ll go wreck.”
The girlfriend and her family 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 that was hit said he saw the pickup driving into his lane with bright on and at a high rate of speed. He reportedly tried to pull to the side of the road to avoid a collision.
Salazar is being held in the Bowie County jail with bail set at $5 million. Tidwell set the case for a pretrial hearing July 1.