Man Convicted For Deadly Head-On Crash On The Hathaway Bridge

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PANAMA CITY - A Panama City man could face 15 years in prison for DUI manslaughter. A local jury deliberated a little more than an hour before convicting 45 year old Margarito Curiel-Aguierre late Wednesday afternoon.

Jurors didn't buy his argument that the victim was partially to blame.

A long day of testimony from both state and defense witnesses dominated a majority of the trial. Of the key witnesses, Margarito Curiel-Aguierre, who was charged with DUI manslaughter took the stand.

Since he doesn't speak much English, a translator helped him tell jurors repeatedly that he didn't remember much of what happened.

"It just happened, it was a bad moment. Only God knows what happened and that's why I'm here," said Margarito Curiel-Aguierre.

Panama City police say Curiel-Aguierre had been drinking while spending time with family and friends in February of 2012.

While driving on the Hathaway bridge, officers say he collided head on with 27 year old Ryan Ramsey. Ramsey had just left the No Name Lounge after celebrating his girlfriend's birthday.

All Curiel-Aguieree remembers seeing is the lights of Ramsey's car before the accident. Prosecutor Bob Sombathy highlighted that during closing arguments.

"Lights coming at you and a car coming at you and his reaction is to look down to see how fast he's going. That's just someone who's had a little too much to drink," said Sombathy.

Public Defender Doug White tried to discredit some of the state's key witnesses.

"When you get right down to it, the most troubling and really irreconcilable testimony comes from the eye witnesses," said White.

The jury didn't buy White's argument. They found Curiel-Aguierre guilty as charged of DUI manslaughter.

Toxicology reports show Aguierre's blood alcohol level was .22. That’s nearly three times the legal limit.

He will be sentenced in early December. He could get 15 years in prison.

Curiel-Aguierre turned down a plea deal that would have sent him to prison for a little less than 10-years.


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