Opening Statements Begin in Trial Over Miami Heat Dancer's Death

A witness testified that Mario Careaga's car was not driving erratically when it struck Miami Heat dancer Nancy Lopez-Ruiz.

Opening statements started Tuesday in the trial of a man charged with DUI manslaughter in a Fort Lauderdale crash that killed Miami Heat dancer Nancy Lopez-Ruiz.

Mario Careaga, 46, is charged in the Sept. 10, 2010 crash that killed Lopez-Ruiz, who was set to begin her first season with the Miami Heat Dancers.

Lopez-Ruiz, 22, was riding her motorcycle in the 700 block of E. Sunrise Boulevard when she was struck by a Mercedes driven by Careaga, police said.

Police say Careaga drifted out of his lane when he hit Lopez-Ruiz, who was thrown from her motorcycle and died at the scene.

Prosecutors showed surveillance video of the crash in court. The footage shows Lopez-Ruiz stopped in a traffic zone and getting off her motorcycle. As she walks around the motorcycle, she is struck by Careaga's Mercedes.

Careaga's friend Ray Stapleton was in Careaga's car at the time of the crash and that he warned Careaga.

"He was trying to say to Careaga, 'Watch out for that motorcycle, Mario, watch out!'" a state prosecutor said.

In question, is whether or not Careaga was intoxicated. Careaga told officers he'd had two vodka drinks before the incident after being arrested, police said. Careaga was later released on $10,000 bond.

Authorities said Careaga had a blood alcohol level of .28 at the time of the crash, more than twice the legal limit in Florida.

Prosecutors said they have surveillance video of Careaga and Stapleton having drinks at a department store event at the Galleria Mall just before the accident.

"Ray walked over to the bar himself, ordered some drinks, gave one of the drinks to Mr. Careaga and each drank," prosecutors said in court.

But witness Victor Paisero said in his testimony that he did not see Careaga's driving in a reckless manner.

"You did not see it speed and then slow down?" asked the defense attorney.

"No," Paisero said.

"Did you see it in any way driving erratically?"


Stay with and NBC 6 South Florida for updates on the trial.

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