CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – A North Miami DJ, charged with DUI manslaughter, is took the stand in his trial on Thursday.
Marlon Gutierrez and Maria Martinez sat in their Toyota Corolla slowly stopping at the red light at the intersection of Le Jeune and SW 8th Street in Coral Gables, back in June of 2013. They were unaware of the intensely violent wreck that was to come, and that would take both of their lives.
The impact caused their car to burst into flames and shatter into pieces.
It also left the driver at fault, local DJ Ervens Prudent to fly into his windshield, requiring more than a dozen staples in his scalp and more than two years of rehabilitation.
The crash also put Prudent’s future in question. He is on trial for DUI manslaughter for the wreck. He says he attended a wedding at the Coral Gables country club after working a double shift at a Miami Beach restaurant and running errands after work. On his way home from the wedding, after drinking a vodka sprite and two glasses of champagne he says he fell asleep.
“Once I made the right turn and I started driving and then from then on I don’t know what happened. I dozed off,” he testified.
Prosecutor Lara Penn pressed him, “How do you know you fell asleep?” she asked.
“Because I don’t remember what happened,” responded Prudent.
Penn continued, “You’re calling that a fall asleep.
“That’s what it is,” insisted Prudent.
The prosecutor pointed out that he was honking his horn and passing vehicles seconds before he slammed into the victims at full speed.
“You changed lanes, passing Marcela Pena from behind her, you maneuver yourself into the lane right next to her…That’s when you plowed into Maria Martinez and Marlon Gutierrez who were obeying the traffic signal that night, and stopped at a red light. Isn’t that correct Mr. Prudent?”
“Yes ma’am,” responded Prudent softly.
Defense attorney Ed O’Donnell pointed out that five blocks before this tragedy, at Douglas Road and Southwest 8th Street, witnesses saw he ran another red light- asserting he was slumped over on the gas pedal.
“Did you have any reason to willfully at a high rate of speed run through a major intersection where the light is hard red? asked O’Donnel.
“No sir, not willingly,” responded Prudent calmly.
Prudent also said he has never forgotten that his actions took the lives of two people, whose loved ones packed the courtroom.
Prudent’s blood alcohol content was nearly double the legal limit. He says that was due to lack of food in his system, not intoxication.
Closing arguments are expected Friday morning.