Trial date set for woman accused of driving drunk, killing prominent San Antonio surgeon

Lawyers disagree on allowing jurors to view wreckage firsthand

SAN ANTONIO – Addressing attorneys during a pre-trial hearing for Melissa Peoples on Wednesday, State District Judge Velia Meza said, “This is one of my oldest cases and it’s gonna go to trial.”

Peoples, 50, is facing intoxication manslaughter charges in the death of Dr. Naji Kayruz, who was struck and killed as he rode his bicycle in the 21000 block of Interstate 10 West on Feb. 5, 2019.

Peoples was allegedly driving drunk when she ran over Kayruz with her 2015 BMW.

During the hearing, defense attorney Demetrio Duarte objected when prosecutors announced plans to bring the car to the courthouse for jurors to view during the trial.

”It’s one, irrelevant and two; it’s prejudicial,” Duarte said. “And three, for the state to come in and put the vehicle out there in its present state is overly prejudicial.”

Duarte said that the car has been stored outside in the elements for over two years and does not represent how it looked immediately following the wreck.

”Any resulting damage that occurred is irrelevant information,” prosecutor Clayton Haden said.

Meza said she would take the issue under advisement and make a ruling later.

At least one more hearing is expected before the trial begins Aug. 24.

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About the Authors

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.

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