Medical experts testify in trial of driver accused of killing He - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Medical experts testify in trial of driver accused of killing Heat dancer

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From left: Darin Trelka and David Bogenschutz From left: Darin Trelka and David Bogenschutz
Miami Heat dancer Nancy Lopez Miami Heat dancer Nancy Lopez
Adela Lopez Adela Lopez

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Attorneys representing the South Florida driver accused of fatally striking a Miami Heat dancer attempted to pick apart the state's case as his DUI manslaughter trial entered its fourth day Thursday.

Police said 46-year-old Mario Careaga killed Nancy Lopez on Sept. 10, 2010 when his Mercedes-Benz sedan crossed three lanes of traffic and hit Lopez while she was on her motorcycle in the 700 block of East Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

"In her case, she had blunt force injuries to her head, her neck, her trunk ... and then her extremities as well," said Broward Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Darin Trelka. "So the blunt force injuries of her head was that she had hemorrhages on the surface of the brain."

Trelka added that Lopez' spinal cord was severed in half as a result of the impact, a statement that caused the victim's mother, Adela Lopez, to break down in tears.

Police said Careaga was drunk at the time of the crash. "Alcohol is detrimental to human performance," said forensic toxicologist Gary Kunsman.

Forensic toxicologist Nadra Nash said Careaga's blood alcohol levels were nearly three times the legal limit. "For [blood alcohol concentration] number one, there were .024 grams," she said. "For [blood alcohol concentration] number two, the ethanol results were .023 gram percent."

Careaga's attorney, David Bogenschutz, dissected evidence and attempted to discredit investigators, asking why they didn't interview everyone who came in contact with the defendant. "When someone on the street tells me they've had two drinks, sir, that means they've had more than two," said crime scene investigator Jonathan Graham. "That's my experience."

"That's your guesstimate," countered Bogenschutz. "You'd made up your mind. That's what happened here. When you saw this individual, you closed the book."

Adela showed 7News pictures of her daughter. Ironically, in a photograph taken when Nancy was about 9 or 10 years old, she was dancing and speaking out against drunk driving. "I saw this picture, and I said, 'Jesus,'" she said. "When I saw that picture I said, 'Oh, God, how ironic is this, that she was killed this way, you know, a victim of this crime?'"

Adela said she's afraid Careaga's attorneys will attempt to discredit Nancy, so she's attempting to locate as many pictures of her as she possibly can to show what kind of person her daughter was.

Careaga's trial is expected to last into next week.

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