MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas - The woman accused of causing a deadly wrong-way crash took the stand at her trial. Hours later, the jury sentenced Nicole Baukus to 38 years in prison on two counts of vehicular manslaughter homicide and one count of vehicular assault.
Two teenagers were killed and a third teen seriously injured in the crash on the North Freeway in June 2012.
Baukus switched her plea to guilty on Thursday. She changed her plea after a toxicologist testified that her blood alcohol level was almost four times the legal limit.
Baukus testified Friday afternoon, the last witness before closing arguments. She tearfully referred to the death of her high school boyfriend in a drunk driving accident in 2007. She said she still mourns him and never wanted to put anyone else through that.
"I don't deserve to be here," she said. "I should have died in that crash also. They didn't deserve to die, I did. They were innocent. I'm not."
Baukus said she didn't remember drinking 21 drinks before steering her truck down the North Freeway the wrong way and slamming into a car. The driver, Nicole Adams, and her passenger, Travis Saunders, were killed. Only David Porras survived, seriously injured.
"Our kids need to be brought back. That's justice. But that ain't going to happen," said Fred Sanders, the father of Travis Sanders.
He sat through all the testimony and says he doesn't believe Baukus was sincere.
"I didn't think it was for us. I didn't think it was for our kids, those three innocent kids. That wasn't for them; that was for the jury. It was for her cause she's afraid she's going to jail," he said.
Saunders agreed with prosecutors that Baukus should get the maximum sentence in prison. He says she would still have a life unlike his son and Nicole Adams.
Prosecutor Andrew James said, "This is an appropriate sentence for what she did. When she laughed at the hospital. When she laughed at the scene."
"There's no winners when it comes to cases like this," Prosecutor Warren Diepraam told Local 2. "The choices that we make when we go out on the roadway, when we go out to bars, they have consequences."
It's been more than a year since it happened, but Fred Saunders says sometimes the grief still overwhelms him.
"Break down crying, have to pull over. Wake up in the morning. And it's a Travis day. It's a day for Travis; I just cry. Spend the rest of the day crying and praying and talking to my son," Fred Sanders said.
Montgomery County Sheriff's deputies led Baukus away from the courthouse in shackles Friday night. She was sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison. Prosecutors said she would serve at least 34 years before she could be paroled.
"My son, her brother will not come home," Fred Sauders said. "So, she got a lighter sentence than he did -- a lighter sentence than Nicole Adams did."
"We are grateful that David survived the accident, but we remember Travis and Nicole Adams every day," David Porras' father said. "We send our continued prayers and support to both of their families."
Agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said they identified, during this trial, a man who they believe gave Baukus drinks the night of the crash. Agents said he will face charges for delivering drinks to an intoxicated person.
"I filed with the sheriff's department here in Montgomery County, an arrest warrant for this individual for providing several of the drinks to Ms. B. that evening, and he will be facing criminal charges," said TABC Agent Sgt. Oscar Williams.
By pleading guilty, Baukus could have received up to 50 years in prison.
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