Jury finds Landa guilty of vehicular homicide
A jury last week convicted a 19-year-old De Soto man of a misdemeanor for his role in the death last year of his girlfriend, 17.
Johnny Landa's defense attorney, Tom Bath, said the guilty verdict of vehicular homicide and not second-degree murder proved Griselda Del Real's death was an accident and that prosecutors had "ridiculously charged" the case. The verdict was returned Jan. 16.
According to testimony, Del Real was jealous Landa was in a vehicle with another girl. She jumped onto the running board of Landa's sport utility vehicle while he was backing the vehicle on the night of Aug. 31.
Landa asked her to get down, and at some point when he began driving forward, she fell. Del Real suffered a fatal head injury.
Prosecutors in Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline's office had said he acted recklessly and showed disregard for human life. The misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail. Landa already has served more than five months.
Del Real's uncle Ramiro Valenzuela of De Soto said the family was "very disappointed" in the verdict.
"It was very clear what happened," he said. "There was eye-witness testimony, but it wasn't enough to apply justice."
The family is resigned to Landa being free in a matter of months, Valenzuela said.
"I hope he becomes a better person, because before he was not a good guy."