A 21-year-old Montgomery County man has pleaded guilty to hunting down two brothers and running them down with a car, killing one of them.
Fernando J. Valenzuela, of Damascus, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree depraved heart murder in the death of Billie Jay Genies and first-degree assault. Depraved heart is the legal term for the reckless action and wanton disregard for human life.
Valenzuela had been charged with first-degree murder before the plea deal.
"This plea holds Fernando Valenzuela accountable for driving his car to kill the victim," said Montgomery County state's attorney spokesman Ramon Korionoff. "The defendant faces up to 20 years in prison."
Valenzuela's attorney has said that Valenzuela did not intend to strike the brothers but was trying to scare them with he lost control of the vehicle.
According to court papers, shortly before midnight Dec. 4, 2012, brothers Billie Jay Genies, 35, and James Genies, asked Valenzuela for a ride outside a 7-Eleven in Damascus. Valenzuela, who was with two other men, agreed to give them a lift to Gaithersburg. Valenzuela and his group did not know the Genies brothers.
All five men all climbed into a black of a Honda four-door sedan and headed toward Gaithersburg.
Once they got near Gaitherstowne Plaza, Valenzuela got out of the vehicle to urinate, documents said.
The brothers exited the vehicle, and began walking on Frederick Avenue. Valenzuela got back into the car and became angry because the brothers did not pay him for the ride, and began looking for them, documents said.
The friends urged Valenzuela to "let it go," to which Valenzuela responded, "They ain't gonna rob me. I'm going to wreck them," charging papers said.
About an hour later, James Genies called his girlfriend and told her that they had been struck by a black Honda, and that he thought it was the same vehicle that they had gotten a ride from.
Rescue crews found James Genies on the 400 block of W. Diamond Avenue. Billie Genies was found two blocks away. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police found the severely damaged black Honda abandoned about three blocks away. It belonged to Valenzuela's mother. She told police that her son had called to say that he had wrecked her car and apologized.