Four-time drunken driver gets life­-sentence

Arturo Noriega admits drinking beer, using cocaine prior to fatal wreck


He admitted he is an alcoholic and accepted responsibility for a 2011 Labor Day weekend traffic crash that killed Richard Casas, 47, a father of two.

On Tuesday, Arturo Noriega, 37, pleaded guilty to intoxication murder charges and was facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.

And on Friday afternoon, he received a life-sentence. It took the jury about an hour and a half to reach that decision.

"Justice is served. I feel a sign of relief. I know I won’t be able to get my husband back but I know this man is not out there," said victim Richard Casas’ wife Florence.

Noriega was on the witness stand for more than two hours Friday during the punishment phase of his trial.

He said he had consumed several beers and used cocaine following his overnight shift in the oil fields near Tilden and was driving into San Antonio on Highway 181 South.

“That's been the difficult part - having to relive everything,” said Casas.

He ran a red light at the South Presa Street intersection and crashed his pick-up broadside into a sedan driven by Casas.

“I still knew what I was doing and for a split-second, I took my eyes off the road because my phone was ringing,” he testified. “I look up and see a car coming this way – that scared me. I didn’t have a chance to even push the brake.”

Noriega said he has been battling alcohol for many years and admitted he’d had three other drunken driving arrests.

He blamed marital troubles, depression and childhood problems for his alcoholism.

Since this is Noriega’s fourth drunken driving arrest, he was charged with intoxication murder.


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