DALLAS — A man arrested in the case of a hit-and-run accident that left a 7-year-old girl with fatal injuries told detectives he didn't realize he hit the child the night of the accident, read a warrant for the suspect's arrest.
Julius Maurice Sears, 29, was taken into custody early Thursday morning at a Garland motel. Dallas police have said witnesses followed the suspect after they saw him hit Melany Valdez as she walked across the street late Tuesday night in the 6900 block of Hemlock Avenue.
According to an arrest warrant, the witnesses wrote down the license plate number of the car as Sears waited for the parking gate to open at the Biltmore Apartment complex. The witnesses then returned to the crime scene and gave police the number and a description of both the suspect and his vehicle.
Dallas police said the license plate number led officers to a used car lot in Garland, where they learned Sears recently purchased the car. The owner told investigators Sears made contact with him earlier and planned to visit the lot later.
Wednesday afternoon, the owner called investigators to let them know Sears was at the lot and they were able to interview the suspect. However, authorities waited to gather more evidence before making the arrest.
Sears faces charges of an accident involving injury or death, which is a 2nd degree felony, and warrants for traffic tickets.
Meanwhile, there was raw emotion at Valdez's home, where family members consoled the little girl's mother.
"We are destroyed by this," said Lucila Padilla, Melany's grandmother. "I miss her so much. We hope justice will be served."
Authorities said the case is still under investigation, but hope the arrest will give family members some closure.