Liver disease was sticking point for judge in Noriega DWI case | KOB 4
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Liver disease was sticking point for judge in Noriega DWI case

Megan Abundis
January 24, 2019 10:17 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Christie Noriega faced a possible 30 years in prison for driving drunk and killing two people while her daughter was in the car.

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However, Chief Judge Louis McDonald sentenced her to three years in prison.

Noriega’s attorneys argued for a more lenient sentence because she did not know that she suffers from a nonalcoholic liver disease which prevents her body from absorbing alcohol.

A clinical psychologist also claimed that the food in prison would be harmful to Noriega's health.

“They don’t have the food that would keep her alive because of her liver disease,” said Dr. Elizabeth Penland.

Chief Judge McDonald asked if there was a medical expert available to speak about how Noriega would be accommodated in prison, but neither side provided one during the sentencing hearing.

The prosecution said there are doctors in the department of correction that treat other inmates with ailments. However, that didn't satisfy the judge.

“While the state feels that the department of corrections has doctors and will address this, I’m not so sure,” said Chief Judge McDonald.

KOB 4 reached out to the department of corrections. The department released a statement that says "medical staff is familiar with non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) and the resources are available to treat it with diet and exercise."

District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said the family is not satisfied with the judge's sentence.

"The family is extremely upset. They think the lives of those two gentlemen were worth more than three years," Martinez said.

People who advocate ending drunk driving agree.

“I think that's what it takes is public outrage,” said Lindsey Valdez, a representative of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “We have to stand up and realize this could have been any of our family members."

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Megan Abundis

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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