Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2007

Prison ordered in fatal wreck

July 26, 2007

A Leavenworth woman who pleaded no contest to manslaughter in the death of a Lansing woman in an April traffic accident has been sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison.

Julie Heise, 44, of Leavenworth, received the standard sentence meted out in Kansas for manslaughter, said Deborah Owens, a spokeswoman for Leavenworth County Attorney Frank Kohl.

Heise was sentenced Friday, July 20, by Leavenworth County District Judge Frederick Stewart. During the hearing, neither Heise nor the family of the victim, Lee Ann Orndorff, chose to make any statements.

The accident occurred April 21 on Shrine Park Road in Leavenworth.

At a preliminary hearing in May, witness Lee Ann Fitzgerald said she was driving north on Shrine Park Road behind Heise's white Ford Expedition at the time of the accident. Fitzgerald said she slowed down after seeing Heise's vehicle swerve into the opposite lane then back momentarily before driving back into the wrong lane. Fitzgerald said Heise continued in the wrong lane for a few blocks before colliding head-on into Orndorff's van.

Leavenworth Police Lt. Michael Adams, who also testified during the preliminary hearing, was the first officer on the scene. He testified he found in Heise's vehicle two prescriptions, Diazepam and Morphine, prescribed on an extended release. The prescriptions were filled two days prior to the accident. Heise denied taking them at the time of the accident, Adams said.

Medical records showed Heise had a blood-alcohol content of .179 - well over the .08 limit allowed in Kansas. A separate Kansas Bureau of Investigation test recorded Heise's blood-alcohol level at .15.

Heise's defense attorney, Gary Fuller, said at the preliminary hearing his client claimed she was reaching for a chocolate sundae, which caused her to swerve into the other lane. Adams testified there was chocolate ice cream splattered in her van.

Heise is in the county jail but will serve out her sentence at the Topeka Correctional Facility, Owens said.

Owens said Heise could earn 15 percent off of her sentence through good behavior.

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