March 26, 2012

Last Tuesday, a twenty-year imprisonment was meted to Ashley Heil; the mother who was driving DWI and crashed on April 2, 2012 that killed her child. The sentenced was pronounced on the 1st District Court at 221.

Montgomery County officials investigated the cause of a one- vehicle crash that claimed the life of an eight month old baby, identified as Whilow Heil. Whilow died after a Chevrolet Suburban, driven by her mother, identified as Ashley Heil, veered away from the roadway Monday night at Cut and Shoot and struck a tree.

Deputies estimated that the crash occurred at about 7:00 o’clock in the evening at FM 1484. According to investigators, the baby was not placed in a restraint seat.  EMT responded to the site and said that they were able to smell alcohol on Ashley’s breath. Another contributing factor to the crash must have been the wet road surface. The baby died on the scene and the mother was transported to the Memorial Hermann Hospital in critical condition.

Heil gave a guilty plea of guilty and her lawyer got a bargain agreement of an imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of $5,000.

Heil is the first woman to be pronounced with this sentence in southeast Texas. In Texas, the charge of felony murder is considered as an accidental murder statute for it does not need the prosecution to establish that the defendant has the intention of causing death. The prosecution has only to prove that the defendant did a heinous act and also an act that clearly endangers human life during the time the felony was committed.

Although she was DWI when the crash occurred in 1484 FM, charge for Intoxication Manslaughter was dismissed, also the charge for injury to a child. She was charged and sentenced for Murder

In this case, D.A. of Montgomery County wanted to prove that Heil was guilty of DWI with a Child Passenger which is considered a Jail Felony of the state. She is also charged for driving her Chevy Suburban at an illegal speed and was not able to control her vehicle resulting for the car to veer off the road and crashed against a tree. The consequence was the death of her child.

Texas appellate courts have previously allowed utilizing Felony Murder resulting from DWI felony crimes. Chief Prosecutor Warren Diepraam had the honor of being the first prosecutor in Montgomery County to successfully accuse an offender utilizing this legal idea. This motivated many courts around the state to apply this concept to DWI fatality cases where the suspect is an serious offender, either a driver who is habitually drunk driver or DWI with a child passenger. The statute of Felony Murder is applied in cases when the felony drunk driving case has heightened circumstances in addition to the fatality.

State prosecutor mentioned that the arrest document claimed that Heil was running her vehicle at an illegal speed and that she was not able to maintain control of her vehicle while she was legally DUI. Prosecutor stated that as a result, she crashed into a tree that resulted in the baby’s death. In Montgomery County, Drinking under the influence is the most often crime committed although it can easily be prevented. The court will always charge a person with the most serious offense and that they hope to send a message that the District Attorney’s Office of Montgomery County District looks at crimes against children as the most heinous for young people are truly innocent victims consequently; they are deserving of the strongest protection from the States.

The case was given special attention by the Department of Public Safety in Texas. They made extensive investigation of the case getting the expertise of some of the best investigators. In fact, Brett Ligon, District Attorney said the case wouldn’t have come to this closure if it were not for the investigation by the DPS Troopers involved. Many of those Troopers spent more than a month creating a solid case which was brought to the Grand Jury.

Car Accident victims may be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering in addition to economic damages.

Please consult with an experienced  DWI lawyer now for free consultation.

Source: Main Montgomery County Police Reporter Com

(http://main.montgomerycountypolicereporter.com/?page_id=76)

Source: ABC Local Go Com

(http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=9043848)