For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
July 29, 2016
The Washoe County District Attorney’s Office has secured a guilty verdict against a man charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Causing Death after a trial held in District Court. The victim in the case was the sole passenger in a vehicle driven by the defendant. The conviction carries a possible penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Sergio Antonio Ponce-Garcia, 24, from Sparks was found guilty of one count of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Resulting In Death on Wednesday evening after a three day trial that began on Monday. The jury deliberated for an hour before reaching their decision.
The Sparks Police Department conducted the investigation into the fatal crash that occurred in the early morning hours of November 15, 2014. The investigation determined that the crash occurred when Ponce-Garcia drove his Pontiac Sunfire southbound on 12th Street in Sparks at a high rate of speed and failed to navigate a turn. He lost control of the vehicle and slid it sideways, colliding with a wooden utility pole on the passenger side. The passenger in the vehicle, David Flores, Age 20, sustained massive head trauma from the crash and died a short time later at Renown Hospital. Investigating officers suspected Ponce-Garcia of being under the influence and, following his admissions to driving, placed him under arrest. When interviewed, Ponce-Garcia described David Flores as his best friend. Subsequent testing of his blood revealed a blood alcohol content of 0.198, approximately 2.5 times the legal limit.
At trial, the defense questioned the evidence linking the defendant to driving the vehicle. However, prosecutors Matt Lee and Enrique Schaerer played a recorded phone call from the Washoe County Jail wherein Ponce-Garcia admitted to drinking and driving that morning and provided details of the crime. In the call, Ponce-Garcia also noted having witnessed Flores die in front of him and described his actions and this experience as something that he will be taking to the grave with him.
In commenting on the verdict, lead prosecutor Matt Lee said “The careless decision to drink and drive often produces tragic results. These tragedies are repeated far too often in our community and are a stark reminder to drink responsibly and never get behind the wheel of a car after consuming alcohol”.
Ponce-Garcia will be sentenced on September 21, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. by District Court Judge Patrick Flanagan. He faces a mandatory prison sentence ranging from 2-20 years and a $2,000-$5,000 fine.