Jury finds 23-year-old guilty of 2 counts of intoxication manslaughter
The 23-year-old man found guilty of killing two of his friends in a drunk driving crash will find out his punishment on Thursday.
An El Paso jury found Miguel Vargas guilty of intoxicated manslaughter and intoxicated assault Wednesday afternoon.
The high-speed fireball crash happened last December on Mesa Street near Executive Center, killing Idaly Reyes and Kimberly Araujo.
The trial began Monday, but it took the jury less than two hours to reach a decision. Vargas showed little emotion as the verdict was read.
Vargas' attorney said that while he and his client are shifting their focus to the sentencing phase of the trial, he believes justice was ultimately served by the verdict.
"I'm not dissatisfied with the verdict," his lawyer said. "I would have preferred a lesser verdict, but I'm not dissatisfied with the verdict. I believ in the jury system and I believe the jury did not act inappropriately."
Vargas faces two to 20 years in prison on each of the intoxicated manslaughter charges and two to 10 years in prison on each of the intoxicated assault charges.
He also could be forced to pay a fine of up to $10,000on each charge.
Vargas testified on Wednesday in his own defense.
Vargas entered the courtroom in a button-up shirt and approached the stand on the third day of his trial.
Police said Vargas was speeding in a red Mitsubishi Lancer south on Mesa Street when he lost control at the Executive Center Boulevard intersection just before 2:30 a.m.
In the car were Stacy Reyes, 18; Nefi Armendariz, 20; Idaly Reyes, 19; and Kim Araujo, 23. Stacy Reyes and Armendariz survived with serious injuries, Idaly Reyes and Araujo died from what medical examiners say was blunt force trauma from the crash.
Vargas told jurors, "I didn't intend to hurt anyone," when he got into his car that night. Prosecutors have said Vargas' blood alcohol concentration that was three times the legal limit of .08.
Prosecutors also revealed that Idaly Reyes had a BAC of .05 (under the legal limit), before asking Vargas if he could have told Idaly Reyes to drive home instead. Vargas admitted he could have.
Vargas also admitted to agreeing to race with the driver of a Mustang, who he said he did not know, while entering his Mitsubishi outside of the Marco Polo bar at closing time.
Vargas told the courtroom the driver of the mustang told him, "you have a nice car, want to race?" Vargas said not one of his passengers objected so he told the driver of the Mustang, "yes."
Vargas said no one in his car screamed for him to stop racing, as Stacy Reyes alleged on Monday. Vargas told the prosecutors Reyes lied about objecting to his speeding.
Vargas admitted to being responsible for the crash, and said he felt, "very bad" about it.
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