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Trial begins for El Paso man accused of murder: intentional or drunken mistake?

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- The murder trial of an El Paso man accused of driving into a crowd of people, killing one woman, at a Lower Valley house party began Monday morning with attorneys arguing whether the incident was intentional or a drunken mistake.

Miguel Tinoco, 21, sat in court with a worried look on his face as witness after witness told the story of a birthday bash turned into a murder scene with Tinoco in the center of it all.

Both prosecuting and defense attorneys told jurors that on July 8, 2012, Tinoco was one of many people kicked out of Julio Martinez's19th birthday party at his home on Rio Monte Street.

Prosecutors claimed Tinoco was upset and later intentionally drove into five people, killing Miriam Aguirre, 23.

"I didn't recognize her at first. Her face was completely filled with blood," Martinez told jurors.

When asked what he saw, Martinez said a maroon Mitsubishi Eclipse made a U-turn and then came toward the group of five people. He said the car was moving quickly and then hit the crowd.

"I saw the car speeding up. He passed a stop sign -- didn't even stop," said Martinez.

Attorneys said behind the wheel of that Mitsubishi was Tinoco.

Defense attorney Tom Hughes told jurors that despite the fact Tinoco was driving the car, he doesn't believe Tinoco is to blame. Instead Hughes pointed his finger at Martinez's "grossly irresponsible" parents for offering teens a "boatload" of liquor and beer.

Testimony regarding how much alcohol was at the party differs among witnesses.

According to Martinez's father, Juan Martinez, there were three 30 packs of beer and no one played any drinking games.

When Martinez was on the stand, however, he told Hughes there was beer, tequila and vodka at the party. Martinez also said people were playing beer pong, but claims, "I honestly didn't see anyone drunk."

Hughes made it very clear he didn't believe that. Then he asked Martinez, "Why did your dad say to get everyone under 21 out of the party? The cops were on their way, weren't they?"

Other witnesses at the party said they were drunk. The man who was in the car with Tinoco during the incident said he believes Tinoco was drunk as well.

Tinoco is charged with murder and four courts of aggravated assault. If found guilty he could face five to 99 years or life in prison.

Trial continues Tuesday morning in the 243rd District Court.