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Fate of El Paso man accused of driving into, killing woman in jurors' hands

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- Jurors in the trial for a man accused of intentionally driving into a group of people, killing a woman, began deliberating Wednesday afternoon.

Miguel Tinoco is charged with murder, criminal negligent homicide and aggravated assault.

Attorneys told jurors in order to convict Tinoco of murder, the most serious offense they must believe Tinoco intentionally and knowingly drove into the crowd, killing Miriam Aguirre.

During closing arguments prosecutor Ray Duke told jurors the evidence the state put forth proved intent.

"It's not a tragedy, it's a crime," said Duke.

Duke told jurors when Tinoco was kicked out of his friend's 19th birthday party, he urinated on a neighbor's property and then the neighbor punched Tinoco in the face. Duke told jurors that's when Tinoco became mad.

"He has anger issues and demanded his car keys from his friend who said, 'Don't do anything stupid,'" said Duke.

Duke said while Tinoco's friend told him to go straight, he instead made a U-turn, sped up and hit the crowd of people.

"He ran into the crowd on purpose," said Duke.

Duke further pointed out Tinoco didn't stop after the incident and then drove to his grandmother's house with full control of his vehicle.

Defense attorney Tom Hughes told jurors the incident wasn't intentional and that the state is asking for the wrong punishment.

"Miguel is not blameless. He's a stupid kid who got drunk and participated in a tragedy," said Hughes. "If he's guilty of anything he's guilty of criminal negligent homicide."

But Hughes said the real blame should fall on Juan Martinez, the man who hosted the house party where the incident took place July 8, 2012, in the Lower Valley.

"Their case (the state's) is full of the shedding of responsibility," said Hughes.

Hughes highlighted how much alcohol was at the party and how Martinez allowed underage teens to drink alcohol at his home something Martinez denied while on the stand. Other witnesses also tried to downplay how much alcohol was at the party. Oneman was even reprimanded for lying under oath, claiming he didn't drink any alcohol.

"All of these witnesses are trying to make themselves look better," said Hughes.

Hughes told jurors given Tinoco was drunk he didn't have any intent to kill.

Earlier in the day, Hughes asked the judge for a direct verdict claiming the prosecution didn't prove Tinoco intentionally or knowingly committed a crime. That motion was denied.

Jurors have been sequester and will be in court to continue deliberation efforts Thursday morning.