The woman charged with intoxication manslaughter after driving the wrong way and killing two teenagers has been sentenced to 38 years in prison. The case went to the jury just before 4 p.m. Nicole Baukus was the last person to take the stand. She sobbed as she told jurors she had no memory of driving that night.
"She wants you to believe she doesn't remember a thing, but she had enough snap to tell the police officers she wasn't driving. She had enough snap to tell a buddy she was pulled over throwing up," Prosecutor Warren Diepraam told jurors in closing arguments.
A friend of Baukus' testified he had a couple of telephone conversations with Baukus and in the last one she told him she was "on the side of the road throwing up on herself".
That was just minutes before the fatal crash.
Surveillance video in a Montgomery County bar shows Baukus consuming 21 alcoholic drinks then stumbling to her pick up truck and driving away. Cameras on the freeway also caught Baukus driving the wrong way on I-45 that early morning June 29, 2012. Around 3 a.m. Baukus slammed into another car killing the driver 19-year old Nicole Adams and the backseat passenger 18-year old Travis Saunders. Front seat passenger David Porras survived. Baukus' blood alcohol level was .30. That's nearly four times the legal limit of.08.
Baukus told the jury a few months ago she wrote a suicide note and considered killing herself after this fatal crash.
She cried on the stand saying "I don't deserve to be here. I should have died in that crash. They were innocent. I wasn't".
"The best thing for this community is to get her out of it. Keep her out of it as long as possible. When you do what she did you won't get to go home," Prosecutor Andrew James told the jury.
Baukus' dad also testified saying he too has a history of getting caught drunk driving.
After the crash Baukus was found to have marijuana and valium in her system and a glass drug pipe in her pick up truck.
Prosecutors showed the jury photos of Baukus posing with alcohol and drugs.
"Alcohol,drugs, marijuana, partying. That's what sort of a person she is. She's an overindulgent party girl," prosecutors called her.
They also called her a sometimes "drug dealer."
Baukus testified she often bought marijuana from her brother. There was also a text message on Baukus' cell phone from her friend asking for Valium.
Baukus told jurors she can understand the pain of the loved ones of the teens she killed. Baukus' high school boyfriend was killed while riding a car with a young man who had been "huffing" computer cleaner and passed out at the wheel.
Jurors also heard a jailhouse recording of Baukus' dad Russell telling her an attorney was in the process of taking care of her Facebook page. Within hours of the crash that page was deleted but prosecutors were able to salvage pictures and posts.
"They tried to prevent you from knowing what she's really like. They tried to destroy her Facebook so that y'all can't see it," Diepraam told jurors.
Baukus has two previous convictions including being a minor in possession of alcohol and assault. A Houston Police Officer also testified on Baukus' behalf. The Houston crash investigator told the court he had gone on two dates with Baukus including to dinner just before she went to that bar and started drinking for about five hours.
When prosecutors asked the Houston officer about text messages between him and Baukus regarding her drinking and drugging he said, "Yes, she texted saying she drinks a lot, almost every night and on the weekends."
There was also a text message between the two about Baukus smoking marijuana but the officer says he initially didn't knowBaukus was referring to using marijuana.
Baukus could be sentenced to as little as two years probation or as much as fifty years in prison.
Saunders' dad, Fred Saunders, says anything less than the maximum will be an injustice.
"I want my son back. I know that can't happen. I still have his picture on my sun visor in my car. I still think about him and cry. I don't think she's a monster. I think she's a party girl," and Saunders says it's time for Nicole Baukus' party to end with the jury putting her in prison for decades.