BRYAN, Texas — Pedro Puga, the teen who allegedly told authorities he "doesn't deal with the laws" during his arrest after witness say he hit 19-year-old Carlynn Beatty with his car, was in court Wednesday asking for a reduced bond.
His bond had been set at $250,000. When the hearing at the Brazos County Courthouse was over, Puga got his bond reduced, but his mother ended up being read her Miranda rights and pleaded the Fifth Amendment while being questioned in front of the judge.
Puga, who was 17 at the time of the crash, is charged with fleeing the scene of a crash involving a death, intoxication assault, evading arrest and tampering with evidence. He is also facing charges of unlawful carrying of a weapon and possession of marijuana in another case.
Puga was first arrested September 14 after witnesses said they saw him hit Beatty with his car while she was walking with friends at the intersection of University Drive and South Texas Avenue and drive away from the scene. He was arrested a short distance later and when asked why he ran, police said Puga told them he doesn't deal with "the laws." Police said he admitted to being high on drugs and alcohol.
Puga was then charged with intoxication assault, evading arrest and assault involving serious bodily injury. His bond was set at $26,000 and he was released from jail on September 15.
On September 20, a warrant for Puga's arrest was issued for possession of marijuana out of Brazos County from an offense that happened on July 13, 2019. His charges on court documents also read as an accident involving death, tampering with physical evidence and unlawful carrying of a weapon. His bond was set at $250,000.
Puga, who is now 18, appeared in court Wednesday with his attorney, Shane Phelps, to ask for his bond to be reduced from $250,000. Phelps argued in court the bond was excessive and the defendant's family would not be able to pay to get him out of jail. Phelps called Puga's mother, Maria Sanchez, to speak on his behalf. If he was out of jail, Sanchez told Judge Karl Hawthorne she would be more strict with Puga and pay attention to who he hangs out with. She told Judge Hawthorne she accepted responsibility for her son if he were to be released.
Assistant District Attorney Ryan Calvert told Judge Hawthorne he believed Sanchez had done everything she could to help Puga after being diagnosed with a mental health disorder as a child. Puga has a history in the juvenile system and had been on probation with the juvenile court up to August of 2019, according to a witness in court. When Calvert asked Sanchez why she believed Puga would follow the rules while out on bond this time, she told him she believed it would be different because this time "it caused a death."
Sanchez said in court Puga called her from jail after being arrested. She said she asked him if he knew what had happened and he said the officers told him he had "murdered" somebody. She said she told him "it could be" and he "started screaming and hung up."
When Puga bonded out of jail on September 15, Sanchez said officers arrived at her home with a warrant for his arrest on other charges. She told Judge Hawthorne she told police she would turn Puga in herself once he got home from work. This prompted Phelps to interrupt and asked for legal counsel for Sanchez. The hearing was put on hold for a few minutes while Sanchez consulted with legal counsel. When the hearing continued, Sanchez was brought before the judge again and read her Miranda rights.
It was determined Sanchez may incriminate herself while being questioned by Calvert and she chose to plead the Fifth, meaning she would not answer any more questions at that time. Other witnesses were brought forward by Calvert, including officers who arrested Puga on September 14 and on September 20.
One of Puga's past juvenile probation officers was also called as a witness by Calvert. He asked the witness in her professional opinion if let out on bond Puga could be trusted to show up to his hearings and follow the rules of the court. She said based upon her history with Puga as his former probation officer "he cannot be trusted" to show up to court.
Phelps argued the bond is overreaching and not realistic for the charges against his client. He said the bond was excessive and that his client was being forced to "pay for his past". Calvert told Judge Hawthorne, again citing 17.15 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure that "it would be reckless to the point of being irresponsible" to allow Puga out on bond and "subject the community" to him.
It was also claimed by many of the witnesses and Calvert that Puga remained disrespectful to those in authority, especially law enforcement officers and the judge. At one point during the hearing, Judge Hawthorne reprimanded Puga to stop talking.
Calvert submitted body cam footage of Puga's September 14 arrest where officers asked 10 or more times what Puga's name was. At one point during the video, there was loud banging and Puga's voice said "I will break this f---ing window." Photos of Puga's September 20 arrest were also submitted to the court.
After hearing the arguments on both sides and from the witnesses, Judge Hawthorne reduced Puga's bond to $168,000. If out on bond, he must abide by a curfew between 4pm - 7am, check in with a probation officer once a week, regular drug testing and GPS monitoring and reporting.
Phelps and Calvert declined comment after the hearing at this time. Puga's next court date has not yet been set.
We talked with Carly's loved ones after the hearing. They tell us they continue to struggle with the loss of Carly every day. Carly was a sophomore at Texas A&M, studying pre-veterinary science. She was involved with a youth group at her church, was a member of Kappa Delta and a staff member for the Freshman Leadership Organization.
"She was my only daughter," Sue Beatty said. "It still doesn't seem real that she's gone."
Suzanne Deatherage and Wanda Luedke McGill were also at the hearing. They are with the Southeast Texas Region chapter of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "We want them to know we're here for whatever they need," Suzanne said.
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