Man convicted in Miami Heat dancer's death sentenced to 15 years in prison

Mario Careaga convicted of DUI manslaughter in death of Nancy Lopez-Ruiz

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A man who caused a crash that killed a 22-year-old Miami Heat dancer in 2010 has been given the maximum sentence allowed by law.

Mario Careaga, 46, was sentenced to 15 years in prison Monday.

However, a judge granted Careaga permission to be placed on house arrest pending an appeal.

Careaga was convicted in March of DUI manslaughter in the Sept. 10, 2010, crash that killed Nancy Lopez-Ruiz, who was on her motorcycle when she was struck by Careaga's Mercedes-Benz.

He took responsibility for her death during his sentencing hearing and told her family that he wanted to spend his life making it up to them.

"I'm sorry for your loss," Careaga testified. "I hope that someday you can accept my remorse."

Careaga also said he has notes of things he can do in the community to help them understand "so that they realize the perils of drinking and driving."

Marjorie Lacy, Lopez-Ruiz's sister, gave a tearful recount of her loss.

"You did not only victimize Nancy," she told Careaga. "You victimized all of us."

Lacy expressed her disappointment that Careaga was granted bond.

"We're not happy about that," she said. "That could be maybe another year. We've waited so long to have justice for her."

During his trial, Careaga testified that he only had two alcoholic drinks while attending an event at the Galleria in Fort Lauderdale earlier that evening, although surveillance video from stores at the mall showed him walking around with a drink in his hand.

Police said Careaga's blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the state legal limit of .08 percent.

A Broward County jury found Careaga guilty, but Judge Ilona Holmes briefly withheld the verdict amid allegations of juror misconduct.

Holmes rejected claims that the verdict was influenced by one of the six jurors because he was prejudiced against gay people and made derogatory remarks about Careaga.

Careaga was expected to be released from jail Tuesday.

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