The first day of the trial of Nichole Baukus ended at 5:30p.m. today. It was 2 p.m. before a jury was selected and after a one hour lunch the two charges of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault were read to the jury by Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam, head of the Montgomery County Vehicular Crimes Unit. He also added the clause where a vehicle is considered a deadly weapon. If this is proven true and Baukus is convicted and sentenced to prison she will be required to do half of her time before she is eligible for parole.
Baukus, plead not guilty to all charges.
Diepraam was followed by Assistant District Attorney Andrew James who is also part of the Vehicular Crimes Unit. As he showed a photo of the crash, he told the jury that thirteen months ago today, this is what the county woke up to, death and destruction. He told them of the southbound lanes still closed, and traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see.
The crash ended the lives of Nicole Adams, 19 of Conroe, her friend, Travis Sanders, 18, of Houston. A third person in the vehicle Baukus struck was David Porras, 21 of The Woodlands. He survived but still has no upper teeth as the bone was damaged when the dash board hit him in the face. He has had thirteen surgeries and is facing more.
He told the jury that at 9:15 pm Baukus arrived at “On the Rox”, a sports bar on Sawdust Road. There she met her friend Meagan. They both walked in and started ordering their drinks from a a friend of theirs, Jessica who not only worked there but was Baukus’ roommate. Over the next four hours Baukus consumes four beers and seventeen shots. Video at the club provided exact times of the drinks.
The timeframe for beer and shots were as follows:
Baukus then stumbled out of the bar at 2 a.m. She got into her truck and drove off.
It is unknown what she did from 2 a.m. until the crash just before 3 a.m. when, as captured on Northstar video she entered the freeway going northbound in the southbound lanes at Research. She drove on the shoulder for a short time. As she topped the hill at SH 242 she missed striking another vehicle. The driver of that vehicle witnessed the crash as she looked back and stopped to help.
Since calls came in the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Dispatcher alerted units of the vehicle going the wrong way. Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Reuvers was first on the scene within minutes as he was in the immediate area heard the call and responded only to be told seconds later there was a crash. He first went to the Ford F-150 and found Baukus leaning against it. She told he she was not the driver. Reuvers then moved further north looking for an ejected victim and found Nicole and Travis slumped over in the seat, dead, in the vehicle which had been struck head-on. Several people stopped and had already pulled Porras out of the vehicle.
Cody Harmon arrived next followed by Shenandoah Officer Todd Schmaltz. Schmaltz also approached Baukus and asked who was driving , she stated a man was but she didn’t know his name. Looking inside, Schmaltz, an experienced investigator that came from Orange County California and had worked with Missouri City Police Department noticed Baukus was not wearing a left shoe or sock.
After looking inside the truck he spotted the bloody sock on the drivers floor board along with the shoe. He also noticed only the drivers side airbag was deployed. If someone had been in the passenger seat that bag would have also been activated. When he asked where she was. Baukus thought she was at FM 2920 and Interstate 45 some ten to fifteen miles south of the crash scene.
She continued to deny her being the driver.
As Schmaltz was talking n his cell phone to a DPS Trooper en route to the crash scene he noticed Baukus smiling and laughing, when he asked what was so funny, she stopped.
When MCHD medics arrived her story changed. She told the medics she indeed was the driver of the vehicle.
She was then transported to Memorial Hermann in the Woodlands. While there she consented to a blood draw. That blood, drawn almost an hour after the crash was at .265, the legal limit is .08. Once again close to 5:30 am her blood was drawn again and this time tested at .204 this also showed a small amount of valium.
As a DPS Trooper questioned her she kept laughing,
One of the attending physician’s hearing this took it upon himself to tell her she just killed two people. She responded by laughing once again.
She was released from the hospital hours later and booked into the Montgomery County Jail.
Defense Attorney Mike McDougal then addressed the jury so quietly that even prosecutors were unable to hear what was said.
The first witness called to the stand was Officer Schmaltz.
Shenandoah Officer Todd Schmaltz who is now back with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, took the stand and testified to what the DA had told the jury in the opening statement.
At 5:30 pm Judge Seiler recessed until 9 am on Tuesday.
Baucus, left the courtroom flanked by both her mother and father who tried their best to block their daughter from news camera’s.