Man Convicted in Miami Heat Dancer's Death Gets 15 Years - NBC New York

Man Convicted in Miami Heat Dancer's Death Gets 15 Years

He'll walk free on $100,000 bond pending his appeal, however.



    NBC 6's Justin Finch has the latest on the sentencing of a man for the driving death of a former Miami Heat dancer. (Published Monday, May 5, 2014)

    Mario Careaga was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed, for the Sept. 10, 2010 crash that killed Nancy Lopez-Ruiz.

    However, Careaga will be out of jail, pending appeals, once he posts a $100,000 bond, which could be as soon as Tuesday.

    In emotional testimony Monday, Adela Lopez, Nancy's mom, told the court that Nancy was an organ donor while asking for the maximum sentence.

    "She wasn't selfish," said Adela Lopez. "She was thinking about other people."

    Police say Lopez-Ruiz, who was set to begin her first season with the Miami Heat Dancers, was riding her motorcycle in the 700 block of E. Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale when she was struck by a Mercedes driven by Careaga.

    Police said Careaga drifted out of his lane when he hit the 22-year-old, who was thrown from her motorcycle and died at the scene.

    Careaga told officers he'd had two vodka drinks before the incident after being arrested, police said. Authorities said Careaga had a blood alcohol level of .28 at the time of the crash, more than three times the legal limit in Florida.

    A jury found Careaga guilty of DUI manslaughter in March, but allegations surfaced that a juror made anti-gay comments during deliberations on the fate of Careaga, who is gay.

    Broward Circuit Judge Illona Holmes later denied a defense request for a mistrial, saying there was no evidence Careaga was convicted because of his sexual preference.

    Careaga previously said that he wishes it had been him instead of Nancy who was killed. But Lopez's sister said she's not convinced.

    "When he says that he's willing to take responsibility, it's not ture," Nancy's sister, Marjorie said.

    Careaga's lawyer said an appeal is expected to be filed on Tuesday.