WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — A man found guilty of murder in a precedent-setting fentanyl-related murder trial is headed to prison after a Wichita County jury of nine women and three men handed down its sentence on Thursday afternoon.
On Thursday, September 28, 2023, 30th District Court Judge Jeff McKnight sentenced Jimenez to 45 years in prison for the murder of Diaz. He will be eligible for parole after serving 22 years of that sentence, according to court documents.
Following arguments from both the prosecution and the defense on Thursday morning, the jury began deliberating at about 1 p.m. They returned their recommended sentence to Judge McKnight after about two and a half hours.
Police said Jimenez sold two pills containing fentanyl to Leigha Smith, who gave one to the 21-year-old Diaz. Smith testified for the state on Tuesday about buying the pills and Diaz crushing his and snorting it. She testified he died in the car while she was inside watching a movie after she couldn’t wake him up.
Following the jury’s verdict on Wednesday afternoon, courthouse officials said they believe the conviction of Jimenez to be the first fentanyl-related murder defendant to be found guilty in the State of Texas, likely setting the precedent for future cases.
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