Jury deliberates in 2007 fatal crash

June 29, 2010 (YORKVILLE, Ill.)

A verdict seems to hinge on expert testimony from both sides about the blood alcohol level of Sandra Vasquez.

Closing arguments ended Tuesday afternoon in the trial of Sandra Vasquez at the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville. Vasquez, 26, faces aggravated drunken driving and reckless homicide charges in connection with a February 2007 crash that killed five teenagers.

During closing arguments, Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis told jurors to hold the Aurora woman accountable for her actions. "It's the defendant's choices that put her here today. Choices that show she is guilty on each and every count"

Vasquez took the stand on Monday. She said she was not drunk when she lost control of her car. She admitted to drinking a beer and a half and a shot of Jagermesiter that night, but said an oncoming car caused her to crash into the light pole. Eight teenagers crammed into her car. Five of them -- Matthew Frank, 17; Katherine Merkel, 14; James McGee, 14; Jessica Nutoni, 15; and Tiffany Urso, 16-- were killed.

Vasquez told the court Monday she had dropped off her younger sister at her aunt's house around 11p.m. on February 11th of 2007 expecting to pick her up just before her 1a.m. curfew.

While waiting for Vanessa Vasquez to call, Sandra admitted she met up with friends and drank one and a half beers and a shot of Jagermeister before going to retrieve her sister at an underage drinking party at a Boulder Hill home.

Vasquez's blood-alcohol level was tested at various levels above the legal .08. However, defense attorney Kathleen Colton said those results are inaccurate due to Vasquez's liver and stomach injuries.

"This is a convergence of events of a perfect horrible storm. Bad choices don't equal guilty verdicts," said Colton.

Sandra Vasquez then said she drove down Route 31 when, "something hit the backside" of her seat. She said she looked to see what it was and when she turned back around, she swerved to avoid the oncoming lights in front of her and hit the pole.

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