18-year prison sentence for Kerrville firefighter in drunk driving crash that killed 8-year-old girl

Isaac Barboza sentenced to prison on Wednesday in a Kerrville courtroom for the death of Arianna Lopez.

Raven Lopez made it clear Wednesday afternoon in the 216th District Courtroom that she wanted Isaac Barboza to look her in the face as she read a victim’s statement.

“You are nothing more than a coward,” said Lopez. “I have to suffer a real life sentence.”

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Arianna Lopez was eight years old when she died.

Lopez’s daughter, Arianna, died after being pinned under one of the wheels of Barboza’s Ford F-250 pickup truck on the night of Aug. 6, 2020. Raven Lopez’s younger daughter was also injured but has physically recovered, but Judge Pat Pattillo said she might never recover from the emotional trauma of the night.


A Kerrville firefighter at the time, Barboza had been drinking heavily with a friend before he drove off down Leland Street and plowed into the home where Lopez was sleeping. Lopez died 11 days later in a San Antonio hospital.

With a heavy police and sheriff’s presence in the courtroom, Pattillo, at times, was wracked with emotion, sentenced Barboza, 25, to 18 years in prison — nearly the maximum he could receive based on state law.

The judgment resulted in an outburst from one woman associated with Lopez’s family. At the same time, there was a brief scuffle outside of the 216th District Courtroom between police officers and Kerr County Sheriff’s deputies, including Kerr County Sheriff Larry Leitha, in the hall with at least one person associated with Barboza’s family.

An earlier plea agreement between Barboza’s defense attorney J. Gary Trichter and 216th District Attorney Lucy Wilke eliminated at least one charge, but Barboza still received a sentence for a second-degree felony of intoxicated manslaughter.

It was a dramatic day in the court, with Barboza’s family and supporters filling one side behind him and Lopez’s family filling in behind Wilke and Assistant District Attorney John Hoover, who led the prosecution.

During a lengthy hearing, Barboza’s mother testified that she didn’t know the extent of her son’s drinking but had taken full responsibility for his actions. The mother’s comments focused on illustrating her son’s remorse through public speaking at high schools around Central Texas and the guilt he’s lived with since the crash.

There was a hope that Barboza would receive a 10-year prison sentence and extended probation, but Hoover was determined to get the maximum sentence. Barboza previously agreed to waive a jury trial and an opportunity to appeal Pattillo’s decision.

During his time on the stand, Barboza faced pressure from Hoover about an acceptable sentence and pushed back against the suggestion that Barboza could save lives through public appearances and sharing his story.

“You keep telling us you want to tell your story,” Hoover said. “Isn’t 20 years more impactful?”

It was a compelling argument that Hoover hit again over and over.

“(Barboza) got to accomplish so many things that Arianna won’t,” said Hoover as Lopez’s extended family wept. “Arianna will never experience those things.”

Barboza said on the night of the crash, he drank at least eight beers and had three shots; his blood alcohol was twice the legal limit of .08. Hoover called Barboza’s decision to climb into his 2013 pickup, which weighs more than 5,900 pounds, a selfish one.

Hoover blasted Barboza’s claim that he swerved to avoid a deer on Leland Street. “What I think happened was that he was drunk, distracted on his phone,” Hoover said. “I don’t think there was a deer. There was a truck, he swerved to avoid the truck.”

The truck was parked on the side of Leland but facing oncoming traffic, and tire marks show Barboza’s pickup truck swerving near where the truck was parked and right into the home where Arianna Lopez and her sister were sleeping.

“What makes sense is that the shots kicked in,” Hoover said, repeating an earlier statement that Barboza told officers about the level of his impairment. “He was drinking. He was impaired, and that’s what happened.”

There was one twist in the case, one presumed early on, and that was Barboza’s speed at the time of the accident. A Texas Department of Public Safety report found that Barboza was traveling at low speed and that his airbags did not deploy when he struck the home. Even at low speed, the truck sheered off a tree, sending it into the home before the pickup crashed through the front of the house.

Earlier in the hearing, Barboza repeatedly said he believed he could help share his story, but Hoover calmly railed against that assertion.

“Raven is best to tell the story,” said Hoover, adding there needed to be consequences for Barboza’s choices. Hoover also showed a photo of Arianna Lopez on a ventilator in the final moments of her life in a San Antonio hospital.

Pattillo told Barboza that he had been represented well by his attorney, had shown remorse, and had broad support from those in Uvalde, where Barboza grew up.

“I wish we didn’t have to be here,” said Pattillo, urging Lopez’s family to find forgiveness for Barboza.

Pattillo said his sentencing focused on punishing for the violation of the law, deterring others and making an effort around rehabilitation. He reminded Barboza about his plea agreement, including the part about appealing the sentence.

“You are confined for 18 years,” said Pattillo, adding there would be credit for time served and some other factors in the sentencing, including dropping a felony assault with a deadly weapon charge.

The sentence resulted in weeping from both sides of the aisle. As Barboza was led away in handcuffs, his family yelled out to him that they would be there for him. Lopez’s family sat quietly, most weeping and hugging as they exited.

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