Donna man sentenced for drunk driving listens to victim impact statements

EDINBURG — After being sentenced to 18 years in prison for killing two people during a drunk driving accident, a 22-year-old Donna man faced family members from three shattered families Monday morning.

As they stood just feet away from a shackled Scottie Ochoa, their emotions ranged from anger to sadness to forgiveness.

“I just want you to know no one is winning in this situation,” Lisa Taylor, sister-in-law to 21-year-old Donna resident Taylor Nicole Crouse, said while holding the victim’s toddler-aged child. “He has to be raised without his mom.”

Ochoa admitted to drinking and driving on Nov. 17, 2018, when he drove at an unsafe speed in the 4000 block of North 2nd Street and struck a curb, causing the vehicle to strike a wooden light poll and then causing it to roll over and spin, striking a stop sign and a bicycle sign, according to a Texas Department of Transportation crash report.

The impact of the accident ejected Crouse from the vehicle, killing her. Alamo resident Christian Jordan Guzman, 29, was in the back seat and died inside the car, which was upside down after the crash.

A probable cause affidavit states that a McAllen detective who responded to the crash “observed Ochoa had slurred speech, had an odor of alcohol emitting from his breath and had glossy eyes.”

Ochoa told the detective that he, Crouse and Christian had been drinking before the accident and detectives discovered a video posted to an unnamed social media site taken inside the vehicle “within the same time frame of when the vehicle accident occurred,” according to the probable cause affidavit.

On Monday, Ochoa came face to face with the consequences of those actions, including learning of his 18-year sentence and having to face Crouse and Christian’s family members in open court.

Mary Guzman, Christian’s mother, told Ochoa through tears that she can’t understand why he decided to get behind the wheel.

“I can never have my son back again,” she said.

Ashley Guzman, Christian’s sister, questioned why Ochoa would put Christian and Crouse’s lives in jeopardy.

“Just remember what you’re doing, just this very moment,” Ashley said. “You’re breathing!”

Samantha Guzman, Christian’s widow, said she is disgusted that Ochoa will get three meals a day, clean clothes and have clean water.

“I hope you understand that our loved ones are gone forever because of you,” Samantha said.

She had asked for the maximum sentence, which would have been 20 years, saying she believed that if he ever left jail he would kill or hurt someone else once released.

“I believe Scottie is a danger to society and should be given the maximum sentence,” Samantha said.

As for Taylor, Crouse’s sister-in-law, she told him she forgave him.

“I’ve forgiven you,” she said.

After her statement, Hidalgo County deputies led Ochoa away and the only way out of the courtroom was passed three rows filled with family members of the victims.

As he reached the door, he turned to Christian’s mother.

“I’m sorry,” he said.