A Plymouth county man’s been sentenced to prison in the hit-and-run death of a jogger in rural LeMars two years ago. A jury found 38-year-old Richard Heien guilty of homicide by motor vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, and leaving the scene of a personal-injury accident.
A judge Thursday sentenced Heien to up to 26 years in prison for the death of Joan Wilson, who was hit on a county road near her home in May of 2004. Heien had told authorities he hit a deer. His lawyer says they’ll appeal the conviction and the sentence.
The victim’s husband, Neal Wilson, addressed Heien and the court before sentencing. Neal Wilson said: “Regardless of how long your sentence, Richard Heien, that can’t change the facts of what happened and what you’ve caused. It is a little bit more bitter, for the family and myself, to look at you and see you not say anything, or lie, as you’ve done and as the judge indicated, and not be a man enough to take responsibility for what you’ve done.”
Heien had claimed he hit a deer. Heien’s attorney, Greg Jones, asked that his client be acquitted as the evidence was all circumstantial. Jones said evidence was presented that Heien had been drinking beer that afternoon, that he’d had three or four beers, but there was no other evidence to support that if Heien were driving, that he was under the influence of alcohol.