Trial opens for Pueblo leader charged over hit and run
A leader of Pojoaque Pueblo in New Mexico went on trial on Tuesday in connection with a fatal hit and run on the reservation.

Lt. Governor Linda Diaz, 52, is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident and failing to render aid. Federal prosecutors say she struck and killed Phillip Espinoza, 31, along a highway on the reservation and waited more than a day to come forward about her involvement.

"The defendant did not stop," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Burkhead said, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported. "She did not even summon help. She left Phillip Espinoza to die in the weeds by the side of the highway."

Sam Winder, a a member of the Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado who used to work for the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico, said Diaz was unaware she struck someone in the early morning hours of April 4, 2009. "Linda acted consistently like someone who didn't know she hit anyone," Winder told the jury, the New Mexican reported.

Matthew Gutierrez, a relative, testified that Diaz drank at least half a beer the night before the accident. Winder says jurors shouldn't hear whether she had been drinking or was intoxicated.

Get the Story:
Lawyer: Diaz unaware she hit man (The Santa Fe New Mexican 2/17)
Was Pueblo Lt. Gov. Aware of Accident? (The Albuquerque Journal 2/17)

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