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DUI murder defendant testifies, admits bad decision

On trial for a drunk driving murder, a Fresno woman admits she got drunk that night, but denies knowing what she was doing was dangerous even though she's been specifically told.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
On trial for a drunk driving murder, a Fresno woman admits she got drunk that night, but denies knowing what she was doing was dangerous even though she's been specifically told.

"Because I had drank (sic), I felt kind of buzzed," Perla Vazquez said as she testified in her own defense Wednesday. She's on trial for the murder of Frank Winslow.

Between the time she rear-ended Winslow's Jeep and sent the 54-year-old tumbling down an embankment to his death, and the time Action News spotted her passed out and under arrest, Perla Vazquez testified she'd gotten very emotional.

"I just started," she said. "I started crying. I kneeled down, kind of like in a fetal position."

CHP officers had informed Vazquez that Winslow had died in the crash she caused. And prosecutors say she of all people should've known better. Police had arrested Vazquez four other times for drunk driving.

Twice she was convicted -- in 2006 and 2010 -- and each time she signed a plea agreement which included a warning that drunk driving is dangerous and if she drove drunk again and killed someone, she could be charged with murder. But Vazquez insisted Wednesday the previous convictions didn't impress on her that drunk driving was dangerous.

"Back then it was just a really long form I needed to initial and sign," she said. "I never thought in a million years that would happen to me."

Vazquez admitted she drove without a license that night in October 2011 when she killed Winslow. She admitted she drank alcohol and felt buzzed when she was done, so she grabbed a meal before driving home. When she got on the road, she said she didn't think anyone would be in danger.

"I didn't think I had drank that much," she said. "Due to the time that passed -- about two hours -- I thought that was more than enough time for me to sober up. I really thought I was okay."

Vazquez said she doesn't remember about eleven miles of her drive -- from getting on Highway 180 to crashing into Frank Winslow's Jeep at Highway 168 and Shaw.

Closing arguments in her murder trial will be Thursday. Vazquez faces life in prison if she's convicted.



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