Before the 103rd District Court in Cameron County rested on day two of the Taylor Nicole Ramirez trial, jurors heard testimony a Harlingen Police Officer who specializes in crash reconstruction.
Officer Antonio Maldonado reconstructed the crash that took the life of motorcyclist David Salinas and broke down the figures the Crash Data Recorder collected. The device is also known as the “Black Box” similar to what is found in commercial aircrafts.
The C.D.R. records 5 Seconds prior to an airbag being deployed according to Maldonado. He testified, 5 seconds before impact, Ramirez was traveling 81 mph.
Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Nathaniel Navey questioned Maldonado about the time intervals data is recorded. Maldonado said “a crash recorder breaks down the numbers every half second.”
Based on the data, two seconds before the driver side airbag was deployed Ramirez slammed on the brakes and the Anti-Lock Braking System was activated.
Within those two seconds Ramirez speed declined from 81 mph to 53 mph. Maldonado testified at 53 mph was when the airbags were deployed. This told investigators she hit Salinas just 2 miles under the posted 55 mph speed limit.
The court rested before Ramirez’s Attorney John Blaylock could cross-examine Officer Maldonado and question the data recorded.
Prior to officer Maldonado’s testimony, Harlingen Police Detective Eduardo Padilla testified his finding from surveillance video recorded by a gas station at the corner Loop 499 and Grimes in Harlingen where the crash had occurred before 2 AM August 30, 2016.
Ramirez’s legal team believes Salinas was stopped at a green light at the intersection and “impeding traffic.” In the video Salinas’ bike “jerked” or “stalled” moments before impact. The defense claims the bike’s presumed “stalling” and alcohol consumption played a role in potential operator error.
Jurors also watched as Harlingen Police investigators questioned Ramirez, 12 hours after she was arrested. During the questioning Ramirez was asked to recount the amount of alcohol that she had consumed throughout the day. Ramirez recounted a variety of alcoholic drinks at multiple establishments throughout the evening.
Before jurors watch the questioning, Ramirez’ attorney John Blaylock argued the legitimacy of the blood alcohol content results. Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab scientist Adam Tucker testified Ramirez’s is BAC was .248. Blaylock called the results flawed because a subject’s height, weight, what foods were in the digestive system and how the body metabolizes alcohol was not taken into consideration. Tucker acknowledged the numbers are not exact and further testing would be needed to be exact. However, Ramirez failed every field sobriety test given by Harlingen police officer Nikolas Torrel testified the previous day.
While the defense argued the legitimacy of Ramirez’s BAC, they later argued Salinas blood alcohol content of .18 may have played a role in his motorcycle “stalling” before impact.
Ramirez is on trial for two charges; 2nd degree Intoxication Manslaughter and 3rd degree Intoxication Assault with a Motor Vehicle causing serious bodily injury.
If convicted, the 2nd degree Intoxication Manslaughter charge carries a possible punishment of 2 to 20 years in prison.