Jury gives horse trainer 6-year sentence after guilty plea - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Jury gives horse trainer 6-year sentence after guilty plea

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) - A jury has decided that race horse trainer Cole Norman should spend six years in prison and pay a $5,000 fine after he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of negligent homicide.

That sentenced was determined today for the 39-year-old Norman, of Haughton, Louisiana. Yesterday, on the day his trial was to begin in Garland County Circuit Court at Hot Springs on a charge of manslaughter, Norman entered the guilty plea to the reduced charge. At that point, jurors began hearing testimony in a sentencing hearing.

Norman was charged after 86-year-old Virginia Heath was killed in an accident on Arkansas 7 south of Hot Springs on February 5th, 2007.

Circuit Judge Homer Wright said he would sentence Norman next Wednesday. Until then, Norman will remain free on $7,500 bond.

Norman's defense presented its case today, after prosecutors offered their witnesses yesterday. The only witness on Norman's behalf was a counselor from a treatment center he attended.

Norman's lawyer, James M. Pratt Jr. of Camden, told the jury yesterday that Norman regrets terribly Heath's death, but stressed that his client wasn't "a drunk barreling down the road or someone using illegal drugs." Pratt said Norman "took too many pills from a doctor who prescribed them" and is fighting an addiction to pain killers he developed because of back problems and a broken neck in December 2005.

Deputy prosecutor Joe Graham said that, with good behavior, Norman could be eligible for parole in about a year.


(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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