Deliberations continue in trial of Bedford woman accused of driving drunk in crash that killed son

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) Was Emily Aponte too impaired to drive?

Emily Aponte, as seen in a Bedford County court room April 26, 2016.

That's a question Bedford County prosecutors are trying to answer in court this week.

They're working to prove that Aponte was suffering the effects of alcohol when she caused an accident that led to her son's death.

Aponte has pleaded not guilty to driving drunk, maiming, and aggravated involuntary manslaughter for a crash that killed her son and injured another man.

Her defense attorney says no one can prove she was intoxicated at the time of her accident.

On Wednesday, prosecutors worked to poke holes in that theory.

At the onset of her trial, Emily Aponte's defense attorney told jurors his client was "stone cold sober" when she caused this accident on Quarterwood Road in Montvale.

To prove otherwise, prosecutors put a forensic toxicologist on the stand Wednesday.

"My calculations indicate that the BAC at the time of the incident, given the facts that there were nine beers consumed and her weight, would have been .144 percent,” toxicologist Trista Wright testified.

That's more than one-and-a-half times the legal limit. The information about the beers came from Aponte herself.

"It was a long night. I drank more than I should have. I don't ever drink, like, that much,” Emily Aponte said on a recording.

After the accident a worker from Child Protective Services interviewed Aponte at the hospital, where her son was being treated and later died.

A recording of the interview was played for jurors.

Aponte: "I'm not going to lie. I did have more than I should have but I thought that, you know, I was staying the night and I would be okay to drive the next morning."

Aponte said she drank nine beers and "a few sips of liquor" on the night before her accident happened.

She wasn't sure when she stopped drinking, but prosecutors estimate it was about 12 hours before the crash.

A blood sample taken at the hospital four hours after the accident showed Aponte's blood alcohol level was .116.

"I would never drink and drive with my son in the car and that's what is getting me, because it was lingering on from the night before. I had no clue,” Aponte said.

Attorneys for Aponte are expected to start presenting her side of the case Thursday.

AFTERNOON UPDATE

Deliberations resumed Wednesday in the case of Emily Aponte, a Bedford woman charged with aggravated involuntary manslaughter, a second drunk driving offense, and child abuse in connection with an accident that led to the death of her son.

A recording of Aponte was played in court by prosecutors Wednesday morning. On the recording Aponte could be heard speaking with a child protective services worker, a few hours after her April 26, 2014 accident that killed her son.

Aponte was asked by the CPS worker about her alcohol consumption during the prior evening. Aponte initially replied that she was worried about her mom and "drank more than I should have." Aponte said she "didn't count" how many drinks she consumed, before saying that she drank nine beers and "a few sips of liquor." Aponte said she didn't remember when she stopped drinking or when she went to sleep. She was at her mother's home in Montvale on the night before the accident.

When asked by the CPS worker about alcohol that was in her car at the time of the accident, Aponte said "I threw it (away) because I got scared when I wrecked. I thought that automatically was going to be on me, because I had drank three of them last night from those." A witness testified Tuesday that she saw Aponte dump several beer cans in the nearby woods minutes after the accident.

Aponte went to a Roanoke hospital with her son after the accident, where a nurse took a blood sample from her under the supervision of a Virginia State Police trooper. The sample was taken at 7:15 p.m., a little more than four hours after the accident. Two forensic scientists testified about analyzing Aponte's blood alcohol level, which they determined to be 0.116.

Prosecutors asked a toxicologist with the Department of Forensic Science to determine Aponte's blood alcohol content at the time of her accident. The toxicologist used information given to her from a transcript of Aponte's conversation with CPS, in which she admitted to drinking nine beers and some liquor. Using a scientific process called "retrograde extrapolation," the toxicologist put Aponte's blood alcohol concentration at the time of her accident at 0.144.

Aponte's blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident is an important point for both the defense and prosecution. Aponte's defense attorney indicated in his opening statements that no one can prove she was intoxicated at the time of her accident.