A retired Newport Beach police officer who drove drunk and caused a wreck on Interstate 15 near Fallbrook, killing a 20-year-old Perris man and injuring two others, was sentenced today to nine years in state prison.
Katherine Ann Heinzel, 51, was convicted last year of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the Nov. 19, 2011, collision that killed Davieonne Dwayne Kelly.
The defendant -- who lives in Winchester -- was arrested after the car she was driving fast rear-ended a Toyota Camry driven by Kelly near Lilac Road about 1:50 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.
The impact caused both vehicles to go through a guardrail and down a steep embankment. Kelly died at the scene and two of his passengers were hurt, along with Heinzel, whose blood-alcohol level was measured at .13-.14 percent after the crash, said Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior.
According to the CHP, Heinzel had retired from the Newport Beach Police Department and was not employed in law enforcement at the time of the crash.
"It was a hard case for us, the jury members," jury forewoman JoEllen Adelman told the North County Times after the trial. "We felt, collectively, so sorry for her (Heinzel) because she made a mistake ---- and such a gross mistake ---- and we felt even worse for the family (of the man who died)."
The North County Times reported Heinzel was one of seven former and current female police officers who accused former leaders of the Newport Beach Police Department of sexual harassment and discrimination in 1992. The women settled a lawsuit for $1.2 million in 1994, according to the report, and Heinzel was awarded $150,000 and allowed to take disability retirement from the Newport Beach Police Department.
-City News Service