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DRIVER GUILTY IN DEATH TIED TO FETAL INJURY

In a case that touched on the question of when life begins, a drunken driver was convicted of killing a baby girl who was born prematurely after he crashed into her mother's car.

Frank Flores Cuellar, 50, was convicted Thursday of intoxication manslaughter in the death of Krystal Zuniga, who was born a month and a half prematurely and had extensive brain damage. She died 44 hours later.

The case is one of the first in Texas to test whether a person can be held criminally liable for harming an unborn child. However, activists on both sides of the abortion issue said the implications of the verdict would remain murky until considered by an appeals court.

Cuellar faces two to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced later today.

Cuellar's lawyer, Anne Marshall, argued that her client should not have been charged with manslaughter because Krystal was not born at the time of the accident.

District Attorney Carlos Valdez argued that a crime is defined by the result of an offense, not the timing of it. In this case, he said, the result was the death of a person, not a fetus.

"That's a little baby and that's who Frank Flores Cuellar killed," he said, pointing to a picture of Krystal lying in a hospital incubator and connected to tubes.

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