A Norristown woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence in a 2019 crash that killed a mother of four who was out for a ride on her motorcycle.
Courtney Clinton, 28, admitted she had been sipping from a bottle of champagne just before 5 a.m. Aug. 4, 2019, in celebration of her 27th birthday, when the Chevrolet Equinox she was driving struck the rear tire of a motorcycle driven by Lakeisha Richet. Richet, 41, was thrown to the ground and run over by Clinton’s vehicle, which dragged her about 200 feet before stopping, prosecutors said.
Police determined that Clinton was driving 30 miles over the posted speed limit at the time of the crash, according to the affidavit of probable cause for her arrest. Her blood alcohol content was .138%, a little less than double the legal limit.
Assistant District Attorney Scott Frame, the prosecutor handling the case, noted that Clinton had no previous arrests.
“We take all traffic-law cases seriously, and this is why,” Frame said. “This is her first DUI, and she goes out on her birthday, has some drinks, and now you have a family who lost a mother.”
Clinton’s plea, entered before Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas Branca, comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in state prison. She will face sentencing on the homicide-by-vehicle charge, as well as a DUI charge, on Oct. 27.
Her attorney, Michael Walter, said after the hearing that Clinton went out of her way to be forthright with the police and cooperate with the investigation.
“This is a tragedy all the way around,” Walter said “She stands here today so contrite and saddened by a loss of a life.”
That loss was reflected during Wednesday’s brief hearing, which was packed with Richet’s family and friends.
Her uncle, former Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff Willie G. Richet, said her relatives have struggled these last two years without her. She was “the heart and soul” of the family, often planning reunions and other special events.
“It’s been a very depressing situation and time for my family,” Richet said. “We just need to bring some kind of closure, to make sure justice is done.”