An Augusta woman convicted Wednesday in a 2011 wreck that killed a Barnwell, S.C. teen, could spend the next two decades in prison.
After two days of testimony and more than three hours of deliberation, a Columbia County jury found Kristine Marie Heath, 37, guilty of vehicular homicide, five counts of serious injury by vehicle and failure to stop at a stop sign.
Superior Court Judge Michael N. Annis sentenced Heath to 20 years in prison followed by 10 years on probation.
“I’m not seeing an acceptance of responsibility, none at all,” Annis said at the sentencing after the trial at the Columbia County courthouse in Evans. “I’m shocked by the total lack of remorse or concern or emotion, that you realize that you’ve just taken a life.”
On June 17, 2011, Heath and six passengers were leaving a family reunion at a Ridge Road campground in Appling when she ran a stop sign at the intersection with Washington Road. Her Ford Explorer was hit by a Jeep Cherokee driven by Angel Herrin, of Augusta.
Throughout the two-day trial, Heath’s attorney, Pete Theodocion, maintained that Heath was not impaired by alcohol, though she admitted to drinking two beers before the wreck.
“No doubt whatsoever, I was not,” Heath testified. “I thought I was very much in control.”
The jury did not find that Heath was impaired, and instead found her guilty of vehicular homicide because she was distracted and ran the stop sign.
“I wasn’t expecting the sign,” Heath testified Wednesday, adding she wasn’t familiar with the curvy rural road. “I didn’t see it.”
Morgan Renew, 18, was a backseat passenger and died from her injuries.
Several people in Heath’s vehicle and Herrin, her husband and 8-year-old daughter also suffered serious injuries.
“I’m sorry is not enough,” Heath told Renew’s family and Herrin. “I wish I could take it all away.”