Woman at center of deadly crash that killed child, mother appears in court

HOUSTON – Veronica Rivas, 20, made an appearance at Harris County court Tuesday morning to go over her bond conditions.

Rivas walked out of court with family and her attorney by her side. She faces two counts of intoxication manslaughter after a deadly crash in February killed 3-month-old Braylan Joseph and his mother, Shayla Joseph, 36.

Rivas will be allowed to go to work and church, but she cannot get behind the wheel.

Her attorney said while Rivas takes full responsibility for her actions and she believes she may have been supplied alcohol to be taken advantage of.

Prosecutors said Rivas was behind the wheel driving 90 miles per hour along a gulf freeway feeder near I-45 and El Dorado when she crashed into the vehicle carrying the mother and son.

Rivas' blood-alcohol content was .21, more than twice the legal limit.

Three others were charged in the crash, too.

The bartender who served Rivas and two others who are accused of buying the drinks were also charged. This is the first prosecution for the District Attorney Task Force, which tracked down everyone suspected of contributing who to the crash.

"I think what it's going to show is that my client was placed in a bad situation, and she was trying to escape the situation and made a bad choice, and that bad choice cost some lives," said Rivas' attorney, Paul Houston Lavalle. "I've been doing this for 30-plus years, and I've never seen a client as remorseful and sorrowful. There are more than two victims in this case."

Rivas is currently out on bond and faces 40 years behind bars if convicted.

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