Tavarez to Spend 180 Days in Midland Jail As Part of Probation Sentence

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - 180 days, that's how long a convicted drunk driver will spend in jail for killing two people and injuring their children in an accident.

It's part of a probation sentence for Joel Tavarez Jr. that was laid out in court on Monday afternoon.

Both the prosecution and the defense were back to hear what was in store for Tavarez.

Last week, a jury sentenced him to probation after finding Tavarez guilty for killing 21-year-old Jena Vela and 22-year-old Perry Jeffrey in a drunk driving accident.

Their two kids were seriously injured in the crash.

"It's very emotionally draining," Jeffrey's sister, Carla Shipley, said. "It's just back and forth and then getting your hopes up and just being let down."

On Monday afternoon, partial terms of the probation were set and as part of that probation, Tavarez will spend the next 180 days in the Midland County Jail.

"We're still disappointed that he's not going to prison because we thought that's what the case really called for but we're certainly grateful that he's gonna have to serve the maximum amount of jail time," Prosecutor, Tim Flathers, said.

Tavarez also received the full 10 years probation.

It's what the prosecution was hoping for and the jail time was a surprise to Perry Jeffrey's family.

"We hope this impresses on him what he can be looking forward to if he should do anything to violate his probation," Flathers said.

"I'm still upset that he did get probation but knowing that he did get the maximum is a little bit comforting," Shipley said.

Restitution costs will be determined in the next few weeks.

Perry Jeffrey's mother, Sylvia Fuller, testified on Monday saying there are several medical bills for the two little girls who are still recovering from the crash.

One bill alone is over $24,000.

Once that's all settled, a judge will decide what Tavarez needs to pay along with what he can and cannot do during those 10 years of probation.

In the meantime, the prosecution and the family are hoping the time Tavarez spends behind bars is another lesson learned.

"Knowing that he is getting a little bit of jail time and having to sit there with what he's done, maybe might sink in when he does get out, he's not able to hurt another family," Shipley said.

Defense attorney Brian Carney says Tavarez is grateful for the jury's service.