Jurors find woman guilty of second-degree murder in La Paz County trial

Verdict reached. Guilty, second-degree murder, two counts.

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Attorneys gave closing arguments today in front of a La Paz County jury in the case of a woman on trial for second-degree murder, allegedly caused while drunk driving on I-10.

Rebecca Loya, who was 57 at the time of the crash which killed two children, took the stand this morning. Loya broke down multiple times during her testimony and avoided eye contact with everybody in the courtroom as she spoke.

The jury went out for deliberations just before lunchtime today after hearing closing arguments from the attorneys and final jury instructions from Judge Michael Burke.

La Paz County Attorney Tony Rogers, the prosecutor in the case, told the jury that Loya’s conduct rose to the level of second-degree murder because she was aware of the risk she was taking and showed an indifference about her choice. He talked at length about witness testimony that she was weaving all over the road. “You or I might hit the rumble strips on the side of the road once,” Rogers told the jury, “but that’s our wake-up call. Rebecca Loya hit them again and again and again, and each time made the decision to keep driving.” Witnesses reported seeing Loya’s vehicle completely outside the lines on the roadway, he said, and then weaving back into the lane.

Loya admits drinking and driving, and says she can’t remember the accident and believes she was so tired she fell asleep at the wheel. Her attorney Matt Newman made a brief closing statement during which he acknowledged Loya’s guilt, but said, “Now you must decide which crime she is guilty of.” Newman said that charges of second-degree murder are usually reserved for people who have committed such crimes before, and that his client has never been in any trouble with the law before.

Jurors who do not believe Loya’s crime meets the burden for second-degree murder may opt to convict her of the lesser charge of manslaughter, which Newman urged them to do.

UPDATE 3:50pm– A verdict has been reached and is expected to be read around 4:30pm. Parker Live will report the verdict when it is available.

UPDATE 4:25pm– Verdict: guilty, second-degree murder, two counts.

Our previous story on the start of the trial can be found by clicking HERE.

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