Closing arguments heard in Sergio Almanza trial

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The jury heard closing arguments in the trial for Sergio Almanza. He’s the man accused of a hit-and-run that killed 7-year-old Pronoy Bhattacharya back in December 2021. 

Both the state and the defense say Almanza was driving recklessly and caused the deadly crash.

But, through the whole trial, they’ve had one key difference. It again took center stage during closing arguments. 

The state spent a lot of time during the trial trying to prove that Almanza was intoxicated. Meanwhile, the defense has been fighting that DWI charge. This was a big topic of the state’s argument during closing statements. 

They went over Almanza’s day hanging out with friends and off-roading on the mesa in his can-am. They brought up his friend’s testimony where he talked about making stops and drinking. 

The state focused a lot of their time on the restaurant they went to before the crash, talking about the server’s testimony and his friends saying “everyone was drunk.”

The state combed through receipts, and pointed at pictures of buckets of beer, and a shot glass on the table. 

“When we get to the restaurant, you see video and pictures of buckets of beers – Dos Equis on the table. You see a shot glass on the table and that is important, and you’ve seen two receipts showing at least 34 drinks ordered between those two receipts.” 

Meanwhile, the defense took a very different approach. They conceded to six of the eight counts, saying that the evidence was there for those six charges. But when it comes to the DWI charge they say there was no evidence that he was impaired. 

Defense Attorney Ahmad Assed addressed the jury acknowledging that this is a very tragic and difficult case. But, he said as a jury they are to go solely on facts. 

He also brought up the receipts and the buckets of beer. He said multiple people were ordering food and drinks, and they do not reflect what his client consumed. 

“The state wants us to get up here with billboards that say ‘nobody saw him drink,’ or ‘he was a designated driver,’ or anything further. I remind you, it is not our burden to prove he was not impaired. It is their burden to prove that he was impaired by alcohol that night. There is no shifting of burdens here,” said Assed.  

The jury started deliberations shortly after noon Wednesday. We expect to get a verdict sometime Thursday.