A San Antonio man who hit and killed a 20-year-old college student while trying to avoid returning to jail was sentenced to 60 years in prison for murder.
Joseph Woolard, 37, pled guilty to murder in the 144th District Court this morning. Woolard had warrants out for his arrest for violating bond when police spotted Woolard driving on May 3, 2020. When officers initiated a traffic stop at Potranco and Waterstone Pl., however, evidence showed Woolard did not stop. Officers pursued Woolard until he turned onto the exit ramp for Northeast Loop 410 to Northbound IH-35 into oncoming traffic where he drove head-on into a car driven by Asante Contreras, killing Contreras.
Woolard was injured in the crash and was taken to a hospital. Inside his car, investigators found a fully loaded .357 Magnum handgun on the passenger floorboard, drug paraphernalia and more than $16,000 cash. Prior to this pursuit and deadly crash, Woolard had posted $335,000 in bonds on charges he led Bexar County deputies on a pursuit in March 2019 that ended in a shootout. Woolard said that he had said he blames the police for “getting him shot” and that he would not go back to jail if he was caught.
Anja Contreras, the mother of Asante Contreras appeared via Zoom to make a victim impact statement. She described her son as “a beacon, sunshine in person.”
“Asante was loved more than you will ever know. Had he been able to that night, he would’ve dragged himself out of his car to check on you. That’s who he was, always dedicated to others. I hate what you did to my boy, how badly you broke my beautiful innocent boy. There you are, thinking only of yourself. Asante worked three jobs to put himself through school. I was so proud of him. Why didn’t you stop? You broke us all. You robbed him of his future, his dreams. He had the brightest future ahead. He did everything right,” Anja Contreras said.
Judge Michael Mery accepted Woolard’s guilty plea with an affirmative finding of a deadly weapon. Charges of evading arrest/detention with a vehicle, aggravated assault against a public servant and felon in possession of a firearm were taken into consideration by the judge before he sentenced Woolard to 60 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division. Because Woolard was charged with murder with a repeat offender enhancement, Woolard faced a minimum of 15 years in prison.
“Nothing deterred this defendant from violence – not a shootout with law enforcement, not high bonds, not even the risk he posed to innocent people like Asante Contreras. No amount of prison time will make the Contreras family whole again. This defendant will have decades to think about the life he took and the life he led that put him where he belongs: behind bars,” District Attorney Joe Gonzales said.
This case was prosecuted by Ryan Wright of the Criminal Trial Division. Charges against Woolard were investigated by the San Antonio Police Department and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
Woolard will have to serve 30 years in prison before he can be considered for parole.