Cowley County prosecutors have filed a murder charge against Ark City’s Salvador Venegas Jr. in connection with a fatality crash last year that claimed the life of Garrett L. Misora of Winfield.
Venegas Jr. - who made a first court appearance Tuesday - is facing counts of murder in the second degree, DUI - 2nd offense, transporting an open container, failure to obey a traffic control device and improper crossover on a divided highway. Venegas Jr. was also injured in the collision and is confined to a wheelchair.
The charging document shows Venegas Jr. is accused of killing Misora “unintentionally but recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
He was summoned to appear this afternoon before Judge Christopher Smith in Cowley County Dist. Court in Ark City. Smith read the charges against Venegas Jr. and asked the defendant if he understood them.
“Yes, sir,” the 29-year-old Venegas Jr. said.
Smith appointed local attorney David Maslin to represent Venegas Jr. A next court appearance is set for May 1.
The state was represented at today’s proceedings by county attorney Larry Schwartz. Misora, 20, died Nov. 20, 2016 in the two-vehicle accident that occurred around 10:30 p.m. on U.S. 77 highway near Strother Field.
Investigators have said Venegas Jr. was southbound in the northbound lanes of traffic when his 2008 Ford passenger car collided head-on with Misora’s 2005 Ford passenger car.
The highway patrol said the Venegas vehicle was being operated without headlights after a previous collision.
Misora died at the scene of the collision.
Venegas Jr. was transported by air ambulance to Wichita for treatment of his injuries.
Misora was wearing a seat belt. Venegas Jr. was not.
Because Venegas Jr. requires continual assistance to move about, and is in a wheelchair, arrangements were made so that the defendant would not be jailed.
“He isn’t considered a flight risk,” Cowley County Sheriff David Falletti said this afternoon.
Venegas Jr. was not made to post a bond, however he must check in with the court twice per week and is not to consume or possess illegal drugs or alcohol.
He must also submit to drug and alcohol testing.