The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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March 6, 2014

Mom sentenced to prison, rehab

MERCER — A Mercer woman who pleaded guilty to charges she caused an accident while high on drugs with her four kids in the car will “be out on probation very quickly,” the judge said.

Amanda Ann Kline, 28, of 1515 Greenville-Mercer Road, was ordered on Wednesday to serve 9 months to 2 years in the State Correctional Institute at Muncy.

“Most people I’ve sent there have been successful,” Mercer County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas R. Dobson said, referring to the intensive drug rehabilitation services offered there.

Kline was sentenced in two other cases Wednesday involving theft-related charges. She was given credit for serving over 700 days in jail total for the three cases, and ordered to pay costs, restitution of $320, and fines totaling $2,500.

Kline pleaded guilty in January to misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, a consolidated count of endangering the welfare of children, and accidents involving death or injury while not properly licensed.

In exchange, prosecutors dropped traffic charges and lessened the degree of the charges that were originally felonies.

Police said Kline blew through a stop sign at Kidds Mill Road in Pymatuning Township and slammed into a pickup that rolled and hit a tree.

Kline fled the scene of the accident in the van which was missing a front tire and a hood that was dragging on the ground, police said.

“The fact that no one died is amazing,” Dobson said.

At the time of the accident, her kids were 17 days, 3, and age 4 twins. They were flown to UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh with severe head trauma. The long-term effects of the children’s injuries are unknown.

Dobson said he took into account Kline’s 13 prior drug-related convictions, and the fact that she is the mother of four young children.

Tyler Heckathorn, assistant district attorney, was ordered to be silent when he started talking about the details of the case.

Dobson issued an order when Kline pleaded guilty on Jan. 7 forbidding the prosecution to speak at the time of sentencing at the victims’ request.

“I spoke to the victims and they really wanted rehab (for Kline) instead of jail,” Heckathorn said. “They wanted her put in a place where she could get help.”

Jenna and Jessica Young were in the pickup struck by  Kline’s van. Jenna sustained a concussion and is in ongoing therapy for injuries as a result of the crash, Heckathorn said.

The Youngs were in the courtroom, but declined to speak at the sentencing. Six members of Kline’s family were there for support.

Nicholas Kline, the defendant’s brother, begged the judge to put her in a drug rehabilitation program.

“My little sister is loving, kind-hearted and an incredible mother,” Nicholas Kline, the defendant’s brother, said.

He said the death of his and Amanda’s mother hit their family hard. Barbara Kline was 50 when she passed away in December from an extended illness.

“I lost my mother and I can’t afford to lose my little sister too,” Kline said.

Amanda Kline apologized for her actions.

“I apologize to my children. I love being a mother,” Amanda Kline said. “I don’t know what I was thinking that day.”

 

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