Drunken driving victim's widow testifies

Arturo Noriega facing life sentence after 4th drunk driving arrest

Florence Casas said she feared the worst when she learned there had just been a bad traffic accident just a few miles from her home on Labor Day weekend two years ago.

Her husband, Richard Casas, 47, was late returning home from an errand, she said as she testified in the intoxication murder trial of Arturo Noriega.

"I immediately got on the phone and started calling Rick's cell phone and I just said, ‘Please, God. Answer, Rick. Why aren't you answering?'" she said.

Her husband's car had been hit broadside by a pickup driven by Arturo Noriega, who ran a red light at the intersection of Highway 181 South and South Presa Street.

Noriega was drunk, expert witnesses testified. His blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. And he had cocaine his system, they testified.

Casas died in the hospital six hours after the wreck. His wife had to tell the couple's two children.

"They just looked at me and started crying and I just told them that their daddy was gone," she sobbed. "Sabrina was so angry and she said, 'Now who's going to tell me that I'm pretty?'"

This was Noriega's fourth DWI arrest.

He is on trial for intoxication murder and facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Closing arguments and jury deliberations will begin Friday morning in 175th District Court.

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