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DUI Manslaughter Trial Begins In Heat Dancer’s Death

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South Florida Crime

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Jury selection got underway Monday in the DUI manslaughter of Mario Careaga who is charged in the death of Miami Heat dancer Nancy Lopez-Ruiz.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office said Careaga hit Lopez-Ruiz in September 2010 while driving west on East Sunrise Boulevard. Careaga’s Mercedes drove out of his lane and struck Lopez-Ruiz from behind as she was parked on a median where U.S. 1 and Sunrise Boulevard split, authorities said.

According to Ft. Lauderdale Police, the force of the crash threw 22-year-old Lopez-Ruiz more than 130 feet in the air.

Lopez-Ruiz, who had just earned a spot on the Heat dance squad, died at the scene of the accident.

Careaga, a Fort Lauderdale insurance executive, had blood alcohol levels of .24 percent and .23 percent that were measured in two samples after the crash, according to probable cause affidavit.

After months of delays, Careaga’s trial is finally underway.

“It’s been very hard, I have no words to express my pain,” said Lopez-Ruiz’s mother Adela Lopez. “Every child that you have, that is your whole world. That’s why it is important for people that drink and drive to know that they can go outside and make victims of innocent people. They must know that they will be held accountable.”

Careaga has hired well know South Florida attorney David Bogenschutz. Lopez-Ruiz’s parents said all they want is justice.

“We are suffering. This is a long journey. It’s a long journey, it will be for the rest of our lives,” said Lopez.

Bogenschutz represented former New York Yankess player Jim Leyritz when he was charged with DUI manslaughter for December 2007 crash in which Fredia Veitch was killed. But jurors disagreed and convicted Leyritz of the lesser charge of DUI.

The trial is expected to take several weeks.

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