Mother of DWI crash victim tearfully testifies in intoxication manslaughter trial

'I could not bring myself to tell my son that his friends were gone'

By Paul Venema - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A dry eye was a rare thing to find in the 186th District Court on Wednesday during the punishment phase of Sylvia Herrera's intoxication assault trial.

Herrera on Tuesday pleaded guilty to two counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault.

Prosecutors said Herrera's blood-alcohol level was .19, more than twice the state legal limit, when she slammed her vehicle into the rear of a car that had stopped for a red light at the intersection to Loop 410 and Highway 151 the night of June 20, 2015.

Two rear-seat passengers in the car that was stopped, Nicholas Ramirez, 22, and Lauren Molina, 21, were killed.

The driver, Domingo Ramos, and front-seat passenger Kenon Peterson were critically injured.

Ramos' mother was among the witnesses who testified Wednesday.

Elizabeth Ramos recalled getting a call from the hospital the night of the crash.

"I didn't know whether he was alive or not, " she said while sobbing.  "They just said he was in an accident."

She said that her son, Domingo, was good friends with the victims.  

The four victims worked at a Cheddar's restaurant, and Domingo Ramos was giving his co-workers a ride home at the end of their shift when the crash occurred.

"She had a big smile," Ramos sobbed as she remembered Molina. "She was a good girl."

Ramos said the following weeks she spent with her son at the hospital were challenging.

"I'm the strong one in my family," she said. "And I could not bring myself to tell my son that his friends were gone."

When Elizabeth Ramos eventually told him, she said that her son was devastated, blamed himself and at one point considered suicide.

"He felt like ... like it was his fault what happened to them," she said.

Elizabeth Ramos' testimony was part of the punishment phase in Herrera's trial.  

The punishment range for intoxication manslaughter is two to 20 years in prison. For intoxication assault, it's from two to 10 years.

Herrera is eligible, and has applied for, probation. But if the jury assesses punishment, probation will not be an option.

Prosecutors have indicated they will ask the judge to "stack" the sentences, which means that the sentences on each count will run consecutively, and could result in a maximum punishment of 60 years in prison for Herrera.

Testimony is expected to continue Thursday in Judge Jefferson Moore's court.

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