EDINBURG — A Hidalgo County jury convicted Franshely Salinas of intoxicated manslaughter and intoxication assault Wednesday, almost one year to the date she crashed her car into another vehicle carrying a father and son.
That crashed killed 28-year-old Apolinar Rubio of La Feria and severely injured his father Adrian Rubio.
During trial, the elder Rubio testified he had no memory of the crash and had no idea why their vehicle was parked on the shoulder of Interstate 2 in Weslaco. A witness to the crash testified that the car appeared to be off and did not have its lights on.
Salinas was the last witness called to the stand during the week-long trial and maintained she was not responsible for the deadly crash, despite admitting to drinking three to four mixed drinks, speeding and texting while driving. Her blood alcohol concentration level was .141 two hours after the crash, with a forensic scientist testifying it was likely closer to .177 — more than double the legal limit — at the time of the crash.
She told jurors that had these factors not been in play, she still would have hit the Rubios’ car, which she alleged to have suddenly pulled into her lane without warning, despite evidence from a crash reconstructionist suggesting Salinas swerved into the shoulder.
Why the Sullivan City woman was heading east in the early morning hours of May 16, 2018, was unclear for most of the trial, until Salinas told jurors she decided to head to Weslaco to kill time before picking up a friend from work at Xotica’s Gentlemen’s Club in Pharr. That friend, however, did not take the stand to corroborate her story.
The prevalence of drinking and driving in the Rio Grande Valley was underscored when a juror failed to show up before closing arguments Wednesday because he had been arrested early that morning on a driving while intoxicated charge after crashing his vehicle. The juror was replaced by an alternate, with state District Judge Letty Lopez saying she had never had a juror arrested during a trial in her nearly two decades on the bench.
An Edinburg police investigator, Carlos Romero, testified he thought Salinas seemed fine to drive home after they spent time at two bars in downtown McAllen, and that he told her to drink two glasses of water before leaving. When prosecutor Carlos Benavides asked him whether someone who has consumed four to five alcoholic drinks should drive home, Romero responded that it depends on the person.
On Friday, the jury sentenced Salinas to two years in prison on the intoxication manslaughter charge and four years probation on the intoxication assault charge.
The prosecutor had asked for the maximum 20 years in prison on the manslaughter charge and 10 years in prison on the assault charge, whereas Salinas’ attorneys sought probation since she has no previous criminal record and had committed no violations while out on bond since her arrest.