By: Julia Deng
SIERRA BLANCA - New analysis that came to light during the "last minute of closing arguments" led to the acquittal of Tony Flint, said defense attorney Justin Low.
Flint, a former Terlingua river guide, had been charged with first-degree murder in the February 2014 beating death of bar owner and "close friend" Glenn Felts.
"It all hit me 20 minutes before closing arguments," Low said of the last-minute realization that swung the verdict in favor of his client. "There was an intervening cause of death."
He told the court Felts may have died after being run over by a car.
"I can't prove that happened," he told NewsWest 9. "But the fact that it might have happened creates doubt as to Tony Flint's guilt."
Jurors bought it; they declared Flint not guilty of murder or manslaughter after just three and a half hours of deliberation.
Low argued that Felts' injuries - which included two deadly blows to the head, more than a dozen broken ribs, torn internal organs and brain bleeding - could not have been inflicted by Flint or any other individual.
"The state's witnesses were ultimately our best witnesses," he explained. "The medical examiner said it himself. These injuries are beyond what we see other than [the result of] a severe car injury or a heavy compression."
Dr. Rhome Hughes testified Monday that Felts' injuries were more severe than those typically inflicted by a beating. The prosecution repeatedly emphasized this as part of their strategy to characterize Flint's alleged attack as unnecessarily brutal and premeditated.
However, Low maintained the former football player's blows alone could not have resulted in the bodily trauma that ultimately killed Felts. Forensic evidence supported his argument.
"The state's witnesses also testified that there were unnatural 'marks' on his body that weren't from Tony Flint," he explained. "I finally pieced together what those were. [I believe] they were tire marks from someone's vehicle."
Flint said in his sworn testimony he "knew Glenn [Felts] was still alive" when he left La Kiva Bar & Restaurant around 2 a.m. on February 4, 2014, following a drunken fight between the two men. Felts was found dead in the parking lot, approximately six hours later, by a La Kiva barbecue cook.
Flint denied seeing any blood when he went home, claimed Felts was breathing and said he made sure his friend was face-down on the ground in order to prevent aspiration of vomit.
According to Low, it was there in the parking lot that Felts, unconscious and sporting non-fatal injuries, was likely crushed by the weight of a vehicle later in the morning. He told NewsWest 9 "it's unlikely" investigators will be able to determine, 15 months after his death, whether or not the theorized hit-and-run really happened.
"We'll probably never know who or how, but I do think it was an accident," said Low. "It just all makes so much sense."
Jurors appeared to agree.
Flint embraced his attorney after Judge Roy Ferguson read the not guilty verdict and declared, "You're the man."
Flint was not available to speak on-camera.