Jury convicts driver in boy’s death outside River of Lights

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Closing arguments were held Wednesday in the trial of a local man accused of driving drunk and killing a little boy outside the River of Lights.

The state and the defense said Sergio Almanza was driving recklessly and caused the crash that killed 7-year-old Pronoy Bhattacharya.

The big question for this trial is whether Almanza was under the influence at the time of the crash.

Almanza’s defense filed a motion to dismiss the DWI charge, but the judge shot it down.

On Thursday morning, a verdict was reached. The jury found Almanza guilty on all counts, including DWI. He was immediately put in handcuffs as the verdicts were read.

“After that first count was pronounced as guilty, I think, I don’t know if I heard the rest of it. But I am just very happy, very relieved. I am happy that justice has been served,” said Deepshikha Chowdhury and Aditya Bhattacharya, Pronoy’s parents.

Almanza faces 30 and 1/2 years in prison, and sentencing will take place within 90 days.  

Almanza was found guilty of homicide by vehicle, great bodily harm by vehicle, knowingly leaving the scene of an accident, two counts of tampering with evidence, and driving an off-highway motor vehicle on a paved street or highway.

“The DA’s office, the attorney general’s office helped us tremendously, we didn’t have all of this information. We were assuming that this was not going to go well because of the lack of evidence. But they argued the case so well, you know, beyond doubt that the case was very strong,” said Deepshikha and Aditya.

Despite the verdict going in their favor, Pronoy’s parents say more people could have taken responsibility for the deadly hit-and-run. 

“We couldn’t be happier with this verdict itself, but you have to remember that there were a number of people involved in this. People who were riding with him in the vehicle, people who helped him escape. Family, friends, none of them took responsibility. None of them came forward with any information, none of them were inclined to do the right thing,” said Deepshikha and Aditya.