Grand jury clears man of criminal charges in AC student death

Photo courtesy of Salazar family.
Photo courtesy of Salazar family.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County grand jury has cleared a Sugarland man of his criminal charges in the death of an Angelina College student after new evidence surfaced.

"I can tell you that we were elated at the findings of the grand jury," said Salazar's Lawyer John T. Floyd.

Brandon Hart, of Woodville, was killed after being struck by a car driven by Christopher Salazar in April 2009. A grand jury initially indicted Salazar in Feb. 2010 on a charge of negligent homicide after a Lufkin Police investigation alleged Salazar was driving 97 miles per hour when he struck Hart, on U.S. 59 North, near Angelina College.

"We had sent investigators out to the scene who would've been prepared to testify that it was just close to impossible in the very short distance that he would've been on 59 for him to be going 96 miles per hour," said Floyd.

Katrina Carswell, a prosecutor with the Angelina County District Attorney's Office, confirmed Wednesday that a September grand jury no-billed Salazar. Carswell said a DPS reconstruction team, as well as another LPD investigation determined Salazar was driving 66 miles per hour.

"I think it's something authorities should've spotted right off the bat that this 96 miles per hour finding was just incredible," explained Floyd.

Carswell said they felt obligated to take the case back to the grand jury with the new findings, and 66 miles per hour is still above the posted speed limit of 45 on that street.

Carswell said the investigation studied marks left on the road from the collision, which includes other marks besides skid marks.

Hart's mother told us in a 2009 interview, she forgives him.

Salazar's family hopes a bridge will be built across U.S. 59 near Angelina College to prevent future accidents from happening.

Hart's family is suing Salazar for damages from the death. That civil suit is still pending.

Copyright 2010 KTRE. All rights reserved.