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Published: Thursday, 6/10/2010

Oregon man gets 9 years in prison for killing woman while driving drunk

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Ricky Miller Jr. is handcuffed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in Toledo after being sentenced to 9 years in prison Thursday for aggravated vehicular homicide. Ricky Miller Jr. is handcuffed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in Toledo after being sentenced to 9 years in prison Thursday for aggravated vehicular homicide.
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An Oregon man, who caused the death of a woman while driving drunk the wrong-way on I-475, was sentenced in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Thursday to nine years in prison.

Rickey Miller, Jr., 31, sat in a wheelchair before Judge Ruth Ann Franks. He lost part of his leg in the Dec. 26 collision that resulted in the death of Sarah Heator, 32, of Sylvania.

Miller had a blood alcohol content of 0.21 percent at about 2:50 a.m. when he caused the head-on crash about a half-mile east of the Central Avenue exit.

The legal limit in Ohio is 0.08 percent.

Miller's attorneys said he has no memory of the crash and remained in a coma for several days after the incident but has accepted responsibility.

Ms. Heator, a nurse and mother of an 8-year-old daughter, was pronounced dead at the scene. She had been on her way to work at Bay Park Community Hospital at the time of the crash.

Donald Burnard, Ms. Heator's father, emotionally told Judge Ruth Ann Franks about the gaping hole left in his family's life after news of his daughter's death. Sharing that his daughter was a "bright and compassionate" woman who "always went that extra mile both professionally and personally," Mr. Burnard asked Miller to remember that his prison sentence is nothing compared to the life sentence Ms. Heator's family must now endure.

Miller apologized for his actions, saying that he knows there is nothing that can be done to "make up" for what occurred.

Judge Franks called the crash a "senseless and absolutely intentional tragedy." She noted Miller's history of 11 misdemeanors, including several traffic violations, drug arrests, and one 2002 driving under the influence conviction. She also noted that Miller was driving under a suspended license at the time of the crash.

Sharing her disbelief, the judge then questioned Miller about information in a letter his mother sent to the court. Miller acknowledged that his brother had been killed in 1998 by a drunken driver.

"You personally know how destructive it is, you know how it devastates a family, … but it had no effect on you," she said. "You carried on and perpetrated that terrible, terrible choice. … It meant nothing. It didn't impact you at all."

Judge Franks also imposed a total of $3,603.28 in restitution for funeral expenses and suspended Miller's driver's license for life.



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