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Jury acquits driver of vehicular homicide in 2016 crash

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — More than two years after a prominent Albuquerque doctor was killed in an early-morning wreck, the woman charged in her death was found not guilty of vehicular homicide Friday.

Sara Casados

After a weeklong trial, jurors found Sara Casados, 30, guilty of lesser charges: careless driving, a petty misdemeanor, and leaving the scene of an accident, a fourth-degree felony. But her attorney, Ousama Rasheed, said the outcome was a relief to his client, who he said was suffering a medical episode at the time of the wreck.

Teodora Konstantinova

“We were really, really happy and really relieved, although we still feel horrible for the doctor’s family,” Rasheed said.

A spokesman for the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the verdict.

Police said Casados was driving her small pickup truck 70 mph in a 35-mph zone around 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday in January 2016 when she hit Teodora Konstantinova’s Mercedes, which was stopped at a traffic light on Louisiana and Constitution.

Konstantinova worked for the University of New Mexico School of Medicine as a physician and an associate professor of internal medicine. She died at a hospital hours after the crash.

Casados fled to a nearby dialysis clinic, where police said they found her on the ground shouting “all hell is going to break loose” while flailing her arms and legs.

Rasheed said his client was having a panic attack, and in the weeks before the wreck repeatedly sought medical care to “try to deal with what was wrong.” He said the crash took place days before she was scheduled to return for a follow-up visit.

“I would say that her mental health status at the time, not being handled appropriately, had a lot to do with this accident,” Rasheed said.

Casados is set for sentencing in early May.

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