A trial is underway for the man accused of driving drunk, crashing into a stop sign and causing the sign to fatally wound a pedestrian.
Police charged 26-year old Lorenzo Anchondo, of Sunland Park, New Mexico, with Intoxication Manslaughter. The deadly wreck happened shortly before 2 a.m. at Mississippi and Stanton in March 2017.
Police said Anchondo, the driver of a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche, was northbound on Stanton and made a left turn onto Mississippi. Anchondo allegedly drove off the roadway and drove onto the sidewalk, police said, striking a stop sign. The sign then struck 33-year-old Xiaoyan Shi, a pedestrian on the sidewalk, in the head, police said.
Sabel Cabatic, an Intensive Care Unit nurse at Del Sol Medical Center, testified Shi’s head “was bashed in. There was a lot of blood. She can’t come back from that.”
A woman who witnessed the incident testified in court Monday. Nicole Dempsey, of St. Louis, was a masters student at UTEP the night Anchondo allegedly killed Shi. Dempsey called 911 the night of the incident.
“I remember seeing a black truck driving fast, then I heard a loud sound that sounded like a gunshot. It was alarming,” Dempsey said, “I saw a woman lying in the ground and a black truck off the curb. I saw blood from her head. No one was going up to the body. Her eyes aren’t open and I didn’t know if she was dead or alive. I saw her friend crying, sobbing and we just prayed.”
Jurors also heard testimony from another witness, Miriam Rodriguez, who said she jumped in front of Anchondo’s truck to keep him from driving away.
“I see him hit the stop sign and I see the girl fall. She was standing on the sidewalk next to the stop sign,” Rodriguez said, “the truck made another wide turn and stopped and I ran in front of the truck, and got in front of his, I believe it was an Avalanche, because I didn’t want him to run away.”
Rodriguez said Anchondo appeared to be drunk and did not react when she yelled “What the hell?” at him. “He got out of the car and was in shock,” Rodriguez said, “He looked drunk to me.”
El Paso Police Officer Willem Wilkinson also testified Monday. Wilkinson told jurors what he saw from Anchondo at the time of the crash. “He was sitting down. He was crying and he was mumbling. He had red glassy eyes,” Wilkinson said. The officer recalled Anchondo saying, ” I wasn’t drunk. I know I wasn’t drunk … I had three drinks. That’s all.”
Officer Wilkinson further stated Anchondo “didn’t make sense at times. He kept saying he hit his brakes and they didn’t work at times. He was intoxicated.”
Shi sustained “a major head injury as a result of being struck by the sign and died at the scene,” police said. At the time, Shi’s Facebook account stated she immigrated to the U.S. from China. The account states Shi was a Nurse at Del Sol Medical Center.
Anchondo’s trial is underway at the 41st District Court, with Judge Annabell Perez presiding. The trial began immediately after jury selection Monday.