ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Casey Zuni, the man accused of a 2018 fatal hit and run changed his plea Tuesday. Now pleading guilty to a DWI charge and leaving the scene of an accident with death, a third-degree felony.
In 2018 police say Zuni’s car collided with a southbound car on Pennsylvania near Comanche. Three people were inside the car that was hit, including Alyssa Barboa who was killed. Two other passengers were injured.
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“We keep thinking it’s going to be a bad dream. That’s it’s a bad dream we’re going to wake up from,” Gabrielle Chavez, Barboa’s cousin, told KRQE in 2019. “It just doesn’t feel the same. Like any gatherings or just being there, you just expect her to walk through the door.”
Police say after the crash, Zuni left the scene and took an Uber home. He was bloody and injured. It was that Uber driver who called the police. Zuni was eventually charged with vehicular homicide by DWI, which carries up to 15 years in prison, but he took a plea deal on a lesser charge.
“You’re changing your plea from not guilty to guilty to knowingly leaving the scene of an accident with bodily harm or death, a third-degree felony offense occurring on or about July 18th, 2018,” said Judge Clara Moran during the hearing.
A spokesperson with the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office said the vehicular homicide by DWI charge would have been hard to prove at trial. While Zuni admitted to drinking beer that night, the crash happened around 1 a.m. and his blood alcohol levels weren’t tested until hours later around 10:30 a.m. Also, a witness said Zuni had drank more alcohol after the crash.
Further hurting the case, the DA’s spokesperson said a witness who said Zuni was the one who ran the red light had died. Without his account, it’s unclear who may have run the red light or what caused the crash.
The two charges carry up to six years in prison, but as part of the plea deal, both sides agreed to a max of four years. A judge still has to sign off on that at sentencing, but most likely will since the defense has agreed to it. No date has been set for that in-person sentencing but Barboa’s family is expected to speak in the courtroom.