Drunken driver sentenced to 10 years

Victim’s family: 'A piece of our heart is missing'

SAN ANTONIO - Rafael Miranda was out of work and had been drinking for four days when he pulled into the path of an oncoming car at the Southeast Bexar County intersection of Loop 1604 and Highway 181 South.

Donna Hopkins, 63, a passenger in the car, was killed. Her husband, Thomas, was behind the wheel. They were on their way home from church on Jan. 3, 2010.

“I just feel kind of empty. I don’t know what to do,” Thomas Hopkins testified during a sentencing hearing for Miranda on Friday -- a feeling echoed by the victim’s son, Leslie Hopkins.

“She was the one that brought the family together all the time,” Hopkins said. “She was basically our anchor for the family.”

Leslie Hopkins' wife worked with her mother-in-law at Harmony Elementary School in the East Central School District, where Donna Hopkins worked as a substitute teacher and volunteer.

Hopkins death cast a sad pall over the school she said.

“To see the looks in (the students') eyes was very sad,” Hopkins said. “I didn’t want to go back, but I had do go back.”

As part of a plea bargain, Miranda was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $1,500.

Judge Ron Rangel also made an affirmative finding that Miranda’s vehicle was a deadly weapon. That means he will not be eligible for parole until he has served one-half of his sentence.


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