LLANO COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A man accused of reckless driving before a fiery, deadly crash was found not guilty of manslaughter on Thursday.
Prosecutors argued that in July 2016, 37-year-old Jason McCombs had been driving recklessly or possibly distracted by his phone while driving east on State Highway 71 near Horseshoe Bay.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said he crossed into the opposite lane, crashing into another car with two people inside.
The 87-year-old passenger, Roland Greaves, died. His 56-year-old son, Perry Greaves, had critical injuries. Perry remains in a medical facility and cannot speak as a result of the crash. The family created an online fundraiser through GoFundMe to help pay for his ongoing medical care.
The Greaves family released the following statement Thursday evening about the verdict:
In our opinion the state proved its case beyond any doubt. The facts as they were presented supported the requirements of the law as explained by the judge.
The defense presented a very compelling and emotional testimony by Mr. McCombs that may have swung the jurors away from a fact-based decision.
The extended Greaves family thanks the Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Perry Thomas, for his professionalism, the work he performed and the compassion he showed our family.
We also thank the first responders and especially the DPS state troopers, who not only worked the scene of the crash but did the subsequent investigation, and were at the trial every day even after their testimony was given.
The Greaves family will continue to support our brother Perry Greaves and his wife, and son, in the hope that he may some day speak, move and recognize his family. We will always remember the life of our beloved father, “Pete” Greaves.
The trial for McCombs began Monday.
McCombs said he did not remember the moments leading up to the crash or being pulled out of a burning car.
Much of his defense focused on convincing the jury that the large amount of data coming through his phone at the time wasn’t from texting, but instead from his GPS or music app. Prosecutors were unable to convince jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that McCombs was driving recklessly or distracted. He was cleared of all charges.
Attorney Austin Shell, who represented McCombs, presented his client’s phone records at trial, which he said showed the last time McCombs made a call was 37 minutes before the crash happened.
“I could disprove the allegation that he was talking on his cell phone, which was very, very strong,” Shell said. “If they didn’t have that, then this was just a car accident — a horrible car accident — but a car accident.”
Shell added that, despite his client’s acquittal, no one is walking away a winner.
“Even though we won and we were very happy for Jason, it’s bittersweet,” Shell said. “At the end of the day, a very good man, Roland Greaves, lost his life prematurely, and Perry Greaves will never be the same.”