Jury sentences drunk driver to 38 years in deadly wrong-way crash

Jury sentences drunk driver to 38 years in deadly wrong-way crash

A Montgomery County jury sentenced Nicole Baukus, 23, to 15 years for the first count of vehicular manslaughter, 15 years for the second count of vehicular manslaughter and 8 years for vehicular aggravated assault.

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by KHOU.com staff & Jeremy Desel / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 2, 2013 at 11:26 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 5 at 10:54 AM

MONTGOMERY COUNTY -- A Montgomery County jury sentenced Nicole Baukus, 23, to 15 years for the first count of vehicular manslaughter, 15 years for the second count of vehicular manslaughter and 8 years for vehicular aggravated assault.

Nicole Baukus, 23, drank 17 shots and four beers before driving the wrong way on I-45, killing two teens and injuring another .

During testimony in the sentencing phase Friday, she was in tears and her shoulders were shaking.

“I don’t deserve to be here. I should have died in that crash also,” Baukus said. “They did not deserve to die. I did. They were innocent.”

Baukus’ lawyers defended her actions.

“A lot of people drink and drive. A whole bunch of people do the same thing every single day,” said Baukus’ defense attorney.

The prosecution disagreed.

“Choices have consequences no matter how cute or pretty or young you are,” said the prosecution to the jury. “Your choices have consequences.”

Baukus’ jury was informed they must sentence her from two to 20 years for the manslaughter guilty plea, but she could still get probation.

As the trial opened prosecutors released surveillance video showing Baukus’ truck headed the wrong way down the North Freeway near Highway 242 on June 29, 2012.

Baukus was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of the freeway and slammed head-on into a car carrying three people. The car’s driver, 19-year-old Nicole Adams, was killed and a passenger in the back seat, 18-year-old Travis Sanders, also died. A third person in the car, 21-year-old David Porras, was critically injured.

On Wednesday, prosecutors released surveillance video from On the Rox Sports Bar and Grill showing Baukus on the night of the fatal crash drinking 17 shots and four beers, within 5 hours, and then stumbling to her truck.

Her blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. Prosecutors said she also had drugs in her system.

Thursday morning, Baukus suddenly changed her plea to guilty.

”I think in the face of overwhelming scientific and circumstantial evidence that she intentionally drank and she intentionally drove while she was drunk and killed two people. She technically really did not have much of a choice,” said Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam.

The surprise plea change stunned victims’ family members.

“I was crossing my fingers when the lawyers went back in chambers. Me and the other family members of the victims said a prayer. And she changed her plea! Flabbergasted I guess understates it,” said Fred Saunders, the father of Travis.

For over a year the families of Travis Saunders and Nicole Adams watched the drunk driver that killed their loved ones walk free. Now Baukus is behind bars and they hope she stays there a very long time.

“Please don’t let my son die in vain. Don’t let these other kids die in vain,” said Fred Saunders, his voice choked with emotion.

As Fred Saunders continues to grieve his son’s death he said what he wants most is for people think twice before drinking and driving.

“He is home with Jesus and that is awesome. But I miss him. A piece of my soul is gone,” he said through tears.

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