When Shana Elliott took the stand Thursday morning, she admitted: “I’m guilty.” Elliott, 22, says she was intoxicated and should not have been driving the evening of Aug. 2, 2016, after a day of tubing on the San Marcos River.
“We decided to go float the river, we weren’t thinking ahead, we didn’t plan who was going to be driving,” Elliott said on the stand. “The float ended around 5 and that’s when nobody else was going to drive and I decided that I would.”
On that day, Elliott, who was 21 years old at the time, allegedly drove drunk and ran head-on into a car on State Highway 21, killing 23-year-old Fabian Guerrero Moreno and injuring his pregnant wife, Kristian Nicole Guerrero. Guerrero was five months pregnant. The unborn child did not survive.
Elliott says before the crash she dropped her friends off at their homes then decided to drive home herself. “It’s really blurry, I just remember as soon as the accident happened, I know that I made the worst decision ever.”
She says she got out of her car at the scene of the crash and ran to the other vehicle. “I just remember fighting, I wanted to go to make sure they were OK,” she said. “I’m sorry. I accept responsibility and I know what I did was wrong.”
At Elliott’s home, investigators found meth, heroin and a large bag of marijuana. On the stand Elliott admitted to being addicted to heroin at one time, she said she smoked marijuana, but never did meth. She says after a previous arrest for drugs she had plans to sober up.
‘I know that I made the worst decision ever.’
While Elliott was on the stand, prosecutors presented a large bottle of alcohol that was found at the crash site. Elliott told the jury it was hers, adding it was full before she and her friends began floating the river.
Prosecutors also played recordings of phone calls Elliott made from jail. In one of the recordings, Elliott is talking with her boyfriend, speculating the other victims of the crash were part of the cartel.
In another recording, Elliott can be heard joking and laughing with her friends about getting her eyebrows threaded in jail just four days after the crash.
Elliott’s grandmother Eleanor Brumley also took the stand Thursday morning. “She was determined to make something of herself,” said Brumley. “I’ve always been proud of her.”
Brumley describes Elliot’s childhood as difficult. She says her father died of a heart attack and her stepdad was an alcoholic and was abusive mentally and emotionally. “Shana would deal with that and walk out the door with a smile on her face. She didn’t complain. She’s always thinking of everybody else,” said Brumley.
Elliott says she tried to deal with the abuse herself, but when she arrived at college she sought psychiatric help through a doctor at Texas State University. She claims the doctor diagnosed her with depression, anxiety and slight PTSD stemming from her difficult childhood.
During closing arguments, Elliott’s attorney asked the jury to give her probation. The judge says Elliot could receive up to 20 years behind bars for each of the two manslaughter charges.
At the time of the crash, Elliott was a senior at Texas State University. Records show her blood alcohol content was .199 at the hospital. On Monday, Elliott entered a plea of guilty for two counts of intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault. The jury is expected to decide her punishment Friday morning.