Trial Ends Abrubtly As Woman Pleads Guilty To Fatal Wrong-Way Crash
by: Gail Delaughter, August 1, 2013 3:08:00 pm
Investigators say 24-year-old Nicole Baukus was traveling northbound on the southbound lanes of I-45 just north of The Woodlands, when her F-150 pickup hit a car carrying three people. That accident happened last summer. Two people in the car were killed. Another was hurt.
Defense attorneys say Baukus was impaired because someone slipped a Valium in her drink at a local bar. But prosecutor Warren Diepraam says that wasn't the case, and he's not surprised by Baukus' sudden plea.
"We were putting on a forensic toxicologist who was basically saying that the defendant was drunk by herself and that any drugs in her system were not put there by anybody else."
So how drunk was Baucus? Video from the bar shows she had 17 beers and four shots over a period of several hours. Diepraam says her blood alcohol level was three times over the legal limit an hour after the wreck.
"With forensics, with crash reconstruction experts, with video from the bar showing her voluntarily consuming at least 21 drinks, it was a very strong case."
A jury could now give Baukus up to 20 years on each of the manslaughter counts. A rash of drunk driving wrecks in southern Montgomery County led authorities to crack down on local bars.