Florida woman sentenced to 12 years in Crestwood man’s death

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By The Staff

 FORT WALTON BEACH — The family of Chris Reinert will never see him again, but on Monday, they got a little bit of closure as the legal proceedings against the woman charged with his death wrapped up in court.


Lorie Ann Miller, the 44-year-old Crestview, Florida woman who plead no contest last month to vehicular homicide and marijuana possession, was sentenced to 12 years in prison by Okaloosa County Circuit Judge Michael Flowers, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

Miller was driving on Antioch Road south of Crestview, Florida just before 5 a.m. on April 8, 2017 when she drove across the center line, through a turn lane and struck Chris’s vehicle on the front driver’s side.

Chris, who was 50 years old, was driving back to his home in Crestwood, Kentucky after spending spring break in Destin, Florida with his 18-year-old son and his son’s friend. Chris was killed instantly, crushed to death in front of his son and his son’s friend who were riding in the car with him. Neither boy was seriously injured.

Miller, who was also injured in the crash, faced up to 15 years in prison for the charges. She’ll be required to serve at least 85 percent of her 12-year prison sentence, pay $515 in fines and will have her driver’s license revoked for three years upon her release.

Eight of Chris’ family members, including his siblings and mother, as well as two of his friends and his longtime girlfriend flew in from Kentucky and Texas to attend the hearing. Five of them gave powerful victim impact statements before the court as his mother, Sue Reinert, held a canvas photo of Chris and his two sons while she was sitting in the courtroom watching the testimonies and quietly sobbing.

Chris’ girlfriend at the time of his death, Angie Morrison, said she was “lucky to have been loved by Chris” and described him as funny, charming and dedicated to his friends and family. She said the motto he lived his life by was “making memories.

“I only had a year-and-a-half to make memories with Chris,” she told the judge. “He brought me and my kids some of the greatest joys of my life.”

Cindy Reinert Hall, one of Chris’ older sisters, said he had “so much to live for” and had just celebrated his 50th birthday.

“I’ve thought and thought about what to say today ... all I can say is, I hope to God no one else ever has to go through this again,” she said.

Diana Wood, another one of Chris’ older sisters, was the third to give a victim impact statement. She tearfully described how hard her brother’s sudden death had been on the family, especially his two sons, and said more than 1,200 people showed up to his funeral — a testament, she said, to the wide impact he made on the community.

Vince Reinert, Chris’ older brother, testified that he was a “special person” who was “full of personality.”

“He was the type of person who would walk into a room and the room was immediately lit up,” he said.

And another brother, Pat Reinert, said Chris was fun, loving, interesting and engaging.

Miller’s attorney, Ricky Dayaram, asked the judge to sentence Miller to 119 months in prison, with all but 24 of those months suspended and followed by 10 years of probation. The defense brought two of Miller’s friends to the stand to testify about her being a loving mother to her 10-year-old daughter and a devoted friend. Additional testimonies came from Miller’s mother, as well as a psychiatrist who treated Miller, and Miller herself.

The doctor testified that Miller suffered from depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder and had entered treatment three times in the past. She also testified that marijuana, amphetamines and Ambien were found in Miller’s system after the crash, but when Miller was on the stand she only admitted to smoking pot and taking Ambien the night of the crash.

Miller apologized directly to the family during her testimony and said she kept a picture of Chris on her phone and would “always be linked to him.”

After she was sentenced, Miller was taken to be fingerprinted and the family left the courtroom. Once outside, they embraced each other and shed tears.

“We get some closure ‘cause it’s over, but it doesn’t bring him back, but we’re happy it’s over,” said Chris’ brother Pat.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Bill Bishop, who presented the state’s case at sentencing, said he was pleased with the judge’s sentence.

“It’s a very difficult case,” he said. “There are no winners today. No winners.”

By: Annie Blanks, Northwest Florida Daily News