Charges against alleged drunk driver changed after fatal crash

Crime

She is accused of driving drunk and killing a pedestrian while she was involved in a crash last month. Now, an Albuquerque woman’s homicide by vehicle charge has been lowered to a less severe charge.

Valerie Nieto told police she was driving through a green light near Montano and Pan American last month when she was hit by another vehicle.

Police say the impact of the crash caused Nieto’s SUV to roll.

At some point during the crash, pedestrian Carlos Medrano-Olivas, was also hit. He later died at the hospital.

When questioned, police say Nieto smelled like alcohol, but she was adamant about her sobriety.

The officer then gives Nieto another chance to tell him the truth.

Officer: “I could smell it on you. How much did you drink?” 
Nieto: “Yeah it was earlier.” 
Officer: “It doesn’t matter if it was earlier.” 
Nieto: “A few beers.” 
Officer: “A few beers. You feel okay driving?” 
Nieto: “Yeah.” 

As he continues to ask her questions, she has a special request for the officer.

Nieto: “I’m just saying, please don’t treat me like a criminal when I’m not.” 
Officer: “I don’t even know what that means, ‘treat you like a criminal.’ You feel like a criminal?” 
Nieto: “No, I don’t!” 
Officer: “Okay, then I don’t know what you’re talking about, okay?” 

The officer then proceeds with the field sobriety test as Nieto struggles to complete it.

Nieto is then placed under arrest and is charged with homicide by vehicle for DWI.

But during her first appearance last month, Nieto’s attorney argued she was hit by another car and did not cause the crash. Judge Castillo Dowler had some reservations but released her anyway.

Now, all court records show Nieto’s charge has been changed to great bodily harm by vehicle.

Officers say Nieto blew at or above the legal limit and her blood was taken into evidence.

It is unclear when and who changed Nieto’s charge from homicide by vehicle to great bodily harm. She will see a judge for a preliminary hearing next month.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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