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 of Washington Road. Her Ford Explorer was hit by a Jeep Cherokee driven by Angel Herrin, of Augusta.
Morgan Renew, 18, of Barnwell, S.C., was a backseat passenger and was partially ejected from a window. She died from her injuries.
Several people were in Heath’s vehicle and Herrin, her husband and 8-year-old daughter suffered serious injuries.
“I’m sorry is not enough,” Heath told the Renews and Herrin. “I wish I could take it all away. If there was anything I could do to change this, I would.
“I am sorry. I am.”
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.
The jury did not find her guilty of vehicular homicide because she was driving under the influence, but because she was distracted and driving too fast.