by Kimberly Rubio, assistant editor
A visibly shaken Jack Young exited the Uvalde County Justice Center Thursday morning having pleaded no contest to 14 two-count indictments for the Concan-area crash that killed 13 people on March 29, 2017. The now 21-year-old is facing up to 270 years in prison, but he won’t learn his fate until November.
Young, who is from Leakey, neither disputes nor admits to the crime with the plea, but he gives up his right to a trial by jury.
Young’s plea comes three weeks after he was arrested for violating the terms of his pre-trial release agreement by testing positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol, a chemical compound in cannabis. He was later released after posting a $30,000 surety bond, and appeared in court Thursday at 10 a.m.
Also present for Young’s court appearance was Charlotte Banks, the daughter of one of the 13 victims. Banks, who was seen crying as Young entered his plea, said she believed his plea was the first step in achieving closure for her mother’s death.
On Thursday, Young’s defense attorney, Rogelio F. Muñoz of Uvalde, said he and his client had determined a plea of no contest was in the best interest of everyone involved in the tragedy.
“We had to make the decision to fight this case or plea,” Muñoz said. “After reviewing the evidence, and discussing the case with my client, we decided it is best for [Young], the victims and their families to put an end to this case and allow him to pay his debt to society.”
Young told presiding Judge Camile DuBose with the 38th Judicial District that he was entering the plea freely and understood the consequences.
Young has reportedly told investigators he took prescription medication prior to the crash and was checking his phone when the 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup truck he was driving collided head-on with a First Baptist Church of New Braunfels bus, killing 13 of the 14 passengers on board. Rose Mary Harris, 64, is the lone survivor.
Video footage captured by a motorist following Young showed his pickup veering into the opposing lane of traffic and recorded the witness’ calls to 911. The video did not show the impact.
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