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Last updateFri, 16 Aug 2019 11am

Soccer star death crash becomes cause célèbre

The professional soccer player accused of drunk driving and causing the deaths of a just-married couple will stay in jail for the duration of his trial.

The defense team representing 19-year-old Joao Maleck has been unable to reach an agreement with the families of María Fernanda Peña Álvarez and Alejandro Castro, who had enjoyed less than 24 hours of marriage before Maleck plowed his Ford Mustang into the back of their Chevrolet Aveo around 9 a.m. on June 23 on Avenida Tepeyac in Zapopan.  The couple died instantly. Maleck and a companion suffered only minor injuries.

Under state law, charges may be dropped if both sides agree to financial compensation, even if the accident was alcohol-related. The deadline to reach an agreement expired on July 27, so a trial – perhaps lasting six or seven months – will now take place.

The Spanish-language media in Guadalajara has followed the case closely, turning it into a cause célèbre, offering their support to the families of the deceased, who are determined to see justice done.   

The case has become so high-profile that the Jalisco attorney general even appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation.

But the case is far from open and shut. In an oversight, Maleck wasn’t tested for alcohol until several hours after the accident, although there is plenty of proof that he had been drinking since the previous night. The speed his vehicle was traveling is also in doubt and it may be difficult for prosecutors to prove he was speeding.

Zapopan Mayor Pablo Lemus has also joined the chorus of voices seeking justice for the deceased couple and has ordered his administration to gather as much evidence as possible in order to secure a conviction.

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