Whenever someone in the Rincon family celebrates a birthday, they wake them up with presents and a treat with a candle on top.
On Thursday, the Rincons began what would have been Jose Rincon’s 15th birthday by lighting a candle in front of his picture.
They spent much of the rest of the morning awaiting a Pima County Superior Court jury’s decision, which came at about noon.
They found Glenda Rumsey guilty of manslaughter in the death of Jose Rincon, who was struck and killed as he rode his bike alongside East Broadway on Jan. 12.
The 43-year-old mother of two will be sentenced on Jan. 20 by Judge Richard Fields.
During closing arguments Wednesday, defense attorney Michael Bloom acknowledged Rumsey was intoxicated when she drove over the white stripe on the shoulder of the road and struck Jose and his best friend, Oscar Perez, who survived.
However, Bloom argued there were a number of other factors involved in the crash.
The area east of Harrison Road is not well lit and the boys didn’t have headlamps on their bikes, Bloom reminded the jury.
In addition, thanks to a recently completed construction project, there was a jog in the road, Bloom said.
The evidence showed that Rumsey wandered over the line for 1.2 seconds, Bloom told the jurors.
Since Perez told investigators Jose had “just jumped out,” is it possible the boy swung out to speak to his friend at the same instant Rumsey wandered over the line? Bloom asked rhetorically.
Bloom said during his closing argument the jury should convict her of negligent homicide rather than the more serious charge of manslaughter.
Deputy Pima County Attorney Mark Diebolt told jurors it didn’t matter how the road was configured or what markings were on the road.
Rumsey had a blood alcohol level of 0.249 two hours after the crash; the legal limit in Arizona is 0.08, Diebolt said.
Four hours after the crash, Rumsey’s blood alcohol level was 0.210, Diebolt said.
Experts testified a 0.249 blood alcohol content in a woman of Rumsey’s size is equivalent to 6.5 drinks, Diebolt said.
There’s not a 10-year-old in the world who doesn’t know that driving with alcohol in your system is dangerous, the prosecutor said.
“The defense can talk about blaming this and blaming that; I’m asking you to put the focus where it should be,” Diebolt said.
Nearly three million people drive that route annually and Jose Rincon has been the only person struck and killed in that area, Diebolt said.
Every day, drivers contend with potentially dangerous situations — potholes, construction barricades, etc. — and that’s why people need to behave “reasonably, prudent, careful and sober,” Diebolt said.
Rumsey is guilty of manslaughter because she was aware of the risks of her drinking and driving and she disregarded them, Diebolt said.
“The defendant killed Jose, not the road, not the signs, not the striping,” Diebolt said.