Drunk Driver Gets 16 Years in Unborn Baby's Death

Driver Gets 16 Years in Baby’s Death

Drunken motorist blamed for premature delivery

Oct 23, 1996

Associated Press – Corpus Christi, Texas

A drunken driver got 16 years in prison yesterday for manslaughter in
the death of a baby who was delivered prematurely after an auto
accident.

The case is one of the first in Texas to test whether a person can be
held criminally liable for harming a fetus. Because it touched on the
question of when life begins, it was closely watched by both sides of the
abortion debate.

Frank Flores Cuellar, 50, had faced as long as 20 years in prison in
the death of Krystal Zuniga, who was delivered shortly after a June 15
car accident. Cuellar’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal
limit when he drove his truck into a car driven by Jeannie Coronado as
she returned from a late-night trip to the grocery store. Coronado, 7 and
one half months pregnant, gave birth to Krystal by emergency cesarean
section. The baby weighed just four pounds and suffered extensive brain
damage, and died with two days.

The jury took an hour to convict Cuellar last week of intoxication
manslaughter and six hours to decide on a sentence yesterday. Cuellar
apoligigized after the sentence was read, saying, “I didn’t intend for
any of this to happen.”

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