Man sentenced to 22 years for DWI crash that killed his 6-year-old stepdaughter in 2021

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Friday, June 30, 2023
Man charged in crash that killed his 6-year-old stepdaughter
Zyra was just days from her 7th birthday when she was thrown from a vehicle in a crash that injured her younger half-brothers as well.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A man has pleaded guilty to felony murder after reportedly driving drunk and causing a crash that killed his 6-year-old stepdaughter in west Houston two years ago, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

The video is from a previous report.

Paul Rodriguez was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the death of Zyra Longoria, which happened on Oct. 21, 2021, on the Southwest Freeway near Fountain View after colliding with an 18-wheeler, causing a 4-vehicle crash.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Man charged in crash that killed his 6-year-old stepdaughter

According to Houston police, Rodriguez was driving a black Honda Accord while weaving in and out of traffic with three young children inside, ages 2, 4, and 6, including Zyra.

Rodriguez reportedly hit the truck and a red Mercedes before hitting a box truck, causing Zyra to be ejected and thrown on the freeway.

According to court documents, a witness said Rodriguez did not check on the 6-year-old and was overheard saying she was not his child.

The 6-year-old was taken to the hospital in critical condition but died from her injuries the next day.

Police said the 2-year-old and 6-year-old boys suffered minor cuts and bruises but were OK.

Rodriguez was said to have a criminal record, including possessing prescription drugs like muscle relaxers and marijuana.

According to Assistant District Attorney Erandy Marquez, who prosecuted the case, Rodriguez took both drugs on the day of the crash.

In front of a judge, Rodriguez pleaded guilty and agreed to a sentencing hearing.

State district judge Andrea Beall heard all evidence on Wednesday and gave Rodriguez the 22-year sentence.

"This could have been avoided, but it happened because he decided to consume a cocktail of drugs and then get behind the wheel with three little kids," Marquez said. "All of his decisions - and this was his repeated pattern of behavior - led to him killing someone."

According to officials, Rodriguez must serve half his sentence before he is eligible for parole and will be unable to appeal his conviction.