A Kingwood mother whose 8-month-old baby died in early April when she lost control of her vehicle while allegedly driving at an unsafe speed and struck a tree is being held in the Montgomery County Jail on a charge of felony murder.
Ashli Nicole Heil
, 28, is being held on a $250,000 bond, according to jail records. She was booked into the jail early Thursday evening.
Heil faces five years to life in prison under the charge of felony murder, known as the “accidental murder” statute in Texas because it does not require the prosecution to prove that the defendant intended to cause death
, according to information provided by Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam of the Montgomery County District attorney’s Office.
The law requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant committed a felony and also committed a clearly dangerous act to human life during the commission of the felony.
Heil is the first female charged with this particular statute in southeast Texas. Diepraam was the first prosecutor in Texas to successfully prosecute an offender under the statute; he and Assistant District Attorney Tyler Dunman will prosecute the case.
The DA’s Office alleges that she committed driving while intoxicated with a child passenger, which is a state jail felony, and she operated her vehicle at an unsafe speed and failed to maintain control of her vehicle, causing it to leave the roadway and strike a tree.
The arrest warrant affidavit against Ashli Heil states that Heil’s speed was about 65 mph seconds prior to the impact with the tree, based on data from the SUV’s critical data recorder. The posted speed limit for the stretch of highway where the accident occurred is 40 mph.
Emergency medical personnel and other officials on scene noticed that Heil had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on her breath at the scene before she was transported to the hospital.
One medic told Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Robert Oelsner that Heil was “drunker than a skunk,” the affidavit states.
Another DPS trooper made contact with Heil at the hospital as she arrived, and Heil told him that she had been drinking, according to the affidavit. She also showed other signs of intoxication such as slurred speech, inability to answer questions and red, bloodshot eyes.
Heil was not arrested until Wednesday because, Diepraam said, she has undergone several surgeries and treatments for a broken spike she suffered in the crash, and she could not be booked into the jail until her medical condition improved so the jail could accept her without incurring significant costs for treatment.