A former “Melrose Place” actress who previously served jail time for a fatal impaired driving accident in 2010 in New Jersey returned to jail after a judge agreed with prosecutors on Thursday that his initial sentence was too lenient.
To say that Amy Locane still refuses to fully acknowledge her guilt in the accident that killed Helene Seeman, 60, and seriously injured Seeman’s husband, State Superior Court Judge Angela Borkowski sentenced her to eight years in state prison. Considering the more than two years she has already served, she will be in prison for more than four years before being eligible for parole, her lawyer, James Wronko, said.
Locane apologized to the Seeman family in a brief statement. She was handcuffed and taken into custody by court deputies after the proceedings in Somerville State Court.
This was a startling development in a case that bounced back through the New Jersey court system for nearly a decade and now has four sentences before three judges, along with numerous appeals.
Locane – who starred in 13 episodes of the popular 1990’s Fox series and has also appeared in several films – has been found guilty of multiple counts, including manslaughter, and has faced a range sentences of five to 10 years for the most serious count. The state initially asked for a seven-year sentence, but a trial judge sentenced it to three years in 2013. An appeals court ruled it had misapplied the law, but in a new conviction, the same judge refused to grant him additional time.
Last year, a different judge sentenced her to five years, but an appeals court ruled that he failed to follow the guidelines she set and ordered a new conviction. Wronko had argued unsuccessfully that convicting her again would violate protections against double jeopardy since she had already completed her original sentence and parole period.
Witnesses said Locane had consumed several drinks before returning home the night of the crash and crashing into the Seemans’ car as it turned into an alley in Montgomery Township, near Princeton. The actress claimed that a third motorist, whose Locane car had fallen a few minutes earlier at a traffic light, distracted her by honking and chasing her.
Locane has not been charged with drunk driving, but a state expert said her blood alcohol level was probably around three times the legal limit and she was driving around 53 mph ( 85 km / h) in a 35 mph (56 km / h) zone at the time of the accident.
Fred Seeman, who nearly died from his injuries in the crash, attended Thursday’s proceedings and said Locane’s blame transfer “shows contempt for this court and the jury that delivered the verdict.”
The judge took a similar point of view and said that Locane’s alcohol abuse put her at risk of reoffending.
“You made the conscious decision to drink that day and kept drinking, recognizing from the start that you needed a ride but didn’t get one,” Borkowski said. “If you hadn’t got behind the wheel of your vehicle that night, the incident would never have happened.
Wronko called the sentence “outrageous.” She has always taken full responsibility ”and criticized the judge for not taking into account Locane’s current sobriety and his work in advising others against alcohol abuse.
Locane has 45 days to appeal his conviction. Wronko said he is waiting to see whether the state Supreme Court decides to hear his appeal on the double criminality issue.
David Porter, The Associated Press