Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa elected on June 30 not to reduce the sentence for Heather Hulsey, a 21-year-old currently serving a six year and four month prison sentence for running over and killing 71-year-old Dr. Ronald Schlensky on a Montecito road in July 2006.
Hulsey, who in December pled no contest to two felony charges - vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol and fleeing the scene of an accident knowing a person had been injured - became pregnant from a man she met in a recovery program, leading her attorney to ask for a lighter sentence to deal with the birth of her child.
The defense proposed a two-and-a half year hold on prison for Hulsey to raise the baby and deal with substance abuse issues. Public defender Mindi Boulet said Villa Majella had a space open for Hulsey, and director Fawn Kuba testified to that fact, but the judge denied the motion. Prosecutor Arnie Tolks said her proposed program wasn’t restrictive enough, and argued Hulsey had not been remorseful at the time of the collision, a point with which Ochoa disagreed. Hulsey will instead raise the child through a women and children prison program.
While Boulet argued there were no birthing preparation classes in the prison program, she also argued it would be impractical to go through the Department of Corrections program because of the long application process. But Ochoa recessed to his chambers to call the head of women and children program, who informed the judge that pregnant women would be expedited through the system and given a higher priority. Ochoa indicated he would order that the baby be kept with Hulsey for a time, and that he was convinced the program does everything it can to keep mother and baby together.