Family Challenging Alleged Confession Following 'Murder-Suicide' Crash

Family Challenging Alleged Confession Following 'Murder-Suicide' Crash

By Julia Deng
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY - The family of Juan Manuel Sanchez, the 33-year-old Odessa man charged with intentionally crashing his truck and killing his cousin, said his alleged confession to detectives was made under the influence of pain medication and "could not be further from the truth."

"He never wanted to kill himself," his wife, Laura Sanchez, told NewsWest 9. "When the detective was talking to him in the hospital room [following the accident], he was pumped full of morphine and he could barely talk. But she kept on and on and she was very adamant about him saying that he wanted to kill himself."

Law enforcement officials who interviewed Sanchez could not be reached for comment.

Odessa Police Department officers were dispatched Tuesday around 6:30 a.m. to the deadly wreck near the 5400 block of Andrews Highway.

Sanchez's cousin and sole passenger, 32-year-old Faustino "Frosty" Calderon, was ejected from the Dodge Ram truck and pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the affidavit obtained by NewsWest 9, Sanchez admitted he "swerved the vehicle on the wet road, attempting to kill himself."

He was traveling at 95 mph and allegedly told detectives he "told Calderon to get out and that he was going to kill himself, but Calderon would not."

Sanchez's sister, Minerva Bee, said the accident robbed her family of "not one, but two" members of her family.

"I am devastated about Frosty's death and my heart breaks for his side of the family," she said. "But [our immediate family] lost a good man, too. [With Sanchez behind bars, facing murder charges,] I feel like I lost a brother. My mother lost a son; my sister-in-law lost her husband; my nieces and nephews lost an uncle; my nephew lost his dad."

Sanchez is currently in custody at the Ector County Detention Center.

Bee said the "destructive, reckless, suicidal" man described in municipal court documents filed Tuesday, was "not the man [she] grew up with and looked up to as a role model."

"He did not give us any reason to believe he would want to kill himself," she told NewsWest 9. "This was an accident - a drunk mistake - and now a good man is being called a murderer."

Sanchez is charged with first degree murder as a result of "operating a motor vehicle on a public roadway, while intoxicated, in a dangerous fashion with the intent to kill himself [and subsequently killing] Faustino Calderon," according to court documents.