Prosecutor appeals 'Melrose Place' actress' sentence
Posted February 19, 2013
SOMMERVILLE, N.J. - Somerset County (N.J.) Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano is appealing the minimum sentence of former actress Amy Locane-Bovenizer, saying that the punishment handed down Thursday by a state Superior Court judge "sends a bewildering message" about drunken driving.
Judge Robert Reed sentenced Locane-Bovenizer, 41, a former TV and film actress who married and became a stay-at-home mother, to just three years in state prison, the minimum allowed by law, for killing Manhattan resident Helene Seeman, 60, outside the Seemans' other home in Montgomery, N.J., on June 27, 2010.
Locane-Bovenizer's blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit, and she was traveling 18 mph above the posted 35 mph speed limit when her sport-utility vehicle struck the Seemans' Mercury Milan on the passenger side.
The Hopewell, N.J., resident initially had been facing five to 10 years for the November jury conviction of second-degree vehicular homicide and an additional three to five years for her conviction of third-degree assault by auto.
The case drew public attention in part because Locane-Bovenizer starred in the original 1992 season of the TV drama Melrose Place and played opposite Johnny Depp in the movie Cry-Baby.
Reed, taking into account Locane-Bovenizer's sick 4-year-old daughter, instead of issuing a second-degree conviction, meted out a lighter third-degree sentence.
"With all due respect, I cannot, considering of all the factors that stand here, treat innocent children as collateral damage," Reed said Thursday in his Somerville, N.J., courtroom.
The sentence sparked outrage among the Seeman family.
On Thursday, Fred Seeman and his son, Ford, shouted at the judge and stormed out of the courtroom.
"Having a sick child doesn't give you a pass to kill my wife!" Fred Seeman said. "What were you thinking of, Judge? You don't understand it!"
According to the sentence, Locane-Bovenizer will serve less than 31 months before she is eligible for parole, followed by three years of post-release supervision and a driver's license suspension of more than five years.
"The sentence sends a bewildering message to our society about the consequences of driving while intoxicated, improperly places focus upon the defendant's personal circumstances and, quite frankly, re-victimizes the true victims in this case," Soriano said Tuesday in a statement.
"It is the position of this office that the judge mistakenly applied the law in sentencing this defendant. The filing of this appeal is the very least, we believe, to which the victim's family is now entitled."
Soriano's office Tuesday filed the notice of appeal, seeking appellate review of the sentence.
Locane-Bovenizer's attorney, Ellen Torregrossa-O'Connor of the Wilentz firm, declined to comment on the sentencing or the prosecutor's appeal.
"This is a tragic case, and there are no winners," she said Tuesday. "Amy Locane will carry this with her for the rest of her life."
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