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Man pleads guilty to charges stemming from 2012 hit-and-run of Kimberly Encinia

kimberly encinia.jpg
Posted at 4:09 PM, May 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-30 23:30:23-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Nearly three weeks after the final pre-trial hearing in the case, Michael Atkinson pleaded guilty to accident causing serious bodily injury/death — stemming from a 2012 hit-and-run that killed 24-year-old Kimberly Encinia.

On Tuesday, Atkinson was handed a 10-year suspended sentence for his role in Encinia's death.

“It's a long journey and it's come to an end," Mary Encinia, Kimberly's mother said. "Like I told the prosecutor, I'm ready to just lock that door and throw away the key and just start healing.”

Encinia was found on the 7500 block of McArdle Rd. with severe injuries on Feb. 11, 2012.

She later died at the hospital from those injuries.

“I honestly didn’t have any memory of this. None of it. Not striking someone. Not someone oh they’re hurt let me stop and help them. Nothing,” Atkinson said.

Ten years later, Corpus Christi Police Department officials received information in 2022 pointing them to Atkinson.

"One day, for some reason, I confessed to someone I didn't even know. And, I was drinking at the time I said this, but I was just talking to them and I just let out a bunch of...At the end of it I don't even know what I said. I just remember the way the person looked at me. It's one of the people that came forward," Atkinson said to the courtroom Tuesday.

At the time, Atkinson was at the Nueces County Jail for indecent exposure and driving while intoxicated.

While on the stand he detailed what happened that day. He said something spoke to him to leave his house on Mary Street and just walk. Eventually he ended up at a house with a fountain.

"It felt like God told me to take my clothes off," he said. "I got nude for some reason and a police officer drove up and he arrested me. He said "Are you drinking?" I said no. "Are you on drugs?" I don't do drugs. "Why are you naked?" I said I don't know I felt like God told me to."

According to plea documents, he also agreed to plead guilty to an indecent exposure charge. Three other pending criminal charges will be dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Atkinson is sentenced to 10 years, but that 10 years is suspended.

Among the terms of the plea agreement , Atkinson must participate in an intensive in-patient substance abuse program, drug offender education program, felony victim impact panel and 160 community service hours.

If he complies with all probation requirements, he will serve no prison time, according to the plea agreement.

Additional terms include a curfew, an alcohol monitor device in his car and on his person.

Tuesday was the first day Mary saw Atkinson. She had been thinking about what to say all this time.

“All these years, like I said, the moment I saw her there in the ditch where he left her, I always wanted the opportunity to tell him that I have forgiven him. And, that was my main priority.”

Mary said she is content with how things have played out. She said there won't be closure because her daughter still isn't with her, but things happen for a reason.

"If anybody needs help, needs comfort just to talk because there's tons of moms out there that are going through the same pain I'm going through. I'll be here. And, I think we go through something like this for a purpose, to help others," said Mary.

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