Trial was set to begin Monday

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

A trial that was scheduled to begin Monday in the case of Manuel Perales Jr., a man charged with shooting a sheriff's deputy earlier this year, was cancelled when a plea agreement was reached with the defendant.

Perales, 43, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted capital murder just minutes before jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday.

Under the agreement reached with the district attorney, Perales will serve two concurrent sentences of 35 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. If he had been convicted at trial, he could have been sentenced to up to two life sentences.

District Attorney Joe Frank Garza said Monday he was pleased with the outcome of the case.

"I talked to the victims and they are fine with it," Garza said. "We felt that judicially this was a fair resolution to what happened."

Perales was indicted in August in connection with the May 26 incident in which he allegedly shot at two deputies, wounding one.

The Jim Wells Sheriff's Department and several law enforcement agencies searched for Perales for eight hours after he fled the scene where Jim Wells County Deputy Mark Martinez was shot at about 11:45 p.m. May 26 in the 700 block of Lara Street in the Rancho Alegre area.

According to sheriff officials, Deputy Martinez was attempting to stop Perales for a traffic violation before the shooting occurred, but Perales refused to stop.

Deputy Martinez and Deputy Jason Childers chased the vehicle Perales was driving, and that chase ended on Lara Street, where gunshots were exchanged.

Martinez was shot once in the leg, and Perales was shot in the stomach before fleeing the scene.

Perales was eventually located in the area and was arrested.

According to court documents, Perales has a prior conviction in 1995 of theft over $750 under $20,000.

Perales was represented by defense attorney Sam Fugate in the plea agreement.