Monday, March 1, 2010

Louisville ex-EMT sentenced to a dozen years in wife's death

A former Louisville paramedic was sentenced to 12 years in prison Monday, February 22 for the overdose death of his wife. 26 year old Michael A. Whitehead pled guilty to reckless homicide, practicing medicine without a license, two counts of theft by unlawfully taking more than $300, and theft of a legend drug. in exchange for prosecutors dropping murder and wanton endangerment charges.

Whitehead was accused of stealing medication from his employer, Yellow Ambulance, and giving it to his wife, 24-year-old Ashley Shanahan Whitehead. She died March 26, 2009 after being in and out of hospitals, according to family members. He was indicted in Jefferson County, KY in September, and Indiana State Police arrested him just across the border in Jeffersonville.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Tom Van De Rostyne said about Whitehead, "He engaged in intentional acts, giving his wife IVs that contained a mixture of drugs he had stolen from his employers. By doing that repeatedly, it was only a matter of time before she either became seriously ill or died.”

Van De Rostyne said medical experts told him that many of the side effects of Ashley’s supposed illness may have actually been caused by the drugs she was being given by her husband. She eventually overdosed on hydrocodone.

The medical examiner found 37 needle holes in her body and pill filler in her lungs. Van De Rostyne said that the pill filler, which is meant to pass through the digestion system but can go into the lungs if too many pills are taken, is sometimes fatal.

The victim’s father also testified in court that he feared for the safety of Whitehead’s young child who still lives in Indiana if Whitehead was released.

Major argued before Jefferson County, Ky., Circuit Court Judge Irv Maze that Whitehead should serve his sentence on probation, but the judge denied that request. Major said he plans to argue for shock probation, a law in Kentucky which allows a judge to release someone from prison if it is found that the crime was so traumatic that the offender was scared straight.

Whitehead's attorney Don Major said that "The amendment to reckless homicide from murder by definition means it was not an intentional act. I believe the evidence shows he was actually trying to help her but that it went terribly awry.”

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