Shopper Pleads Guilty In Connection With Raleigh Woman's Death
Posted June 29, 2006 10:36 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — A shopper charged with second-degree murder in connection with an argument that ended another woman's life will face no additional jail time after she accepted a plea deal on Monday.
As part of the deal, Kimberly Arnold, 39, apologized and pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of Gina Loeh, 52.
Authorities said that Arnold, of Powder Springs, Ga., shoved Loeh, who was blind and in poor health, so hard that she fell backward and hit her head on the pavement outside Ross Dress in Triangle Town Center.
Loeh's death seven days later was ruled a homicide.
"Not only did Ms. Arnold cause my mother's death, but she left me with something I will never forget or forgive," said Loeh's daughter, Stephanie. "Every time I close my eyes, I replay the scenes of that day in my head."
Authorities said Arnold and the victim had been arguing inside the department store about who was next in line at the checkout counter. Arnold's attorney, Howard Kurtz, said his client was provoked when Loeh called her a derogatory term.
"Most people don't expect that simply pushing somebody will cause such a horrible tragedy," Kurtz said.
Arnold could have faced up to five years in prison under the involuntary manslaughter charge, but Wake County Superior Court Judge Leon Stanback sentenced her to 200 hours of community service, calling the case one in which everybody loses.
"I'm sorry for your loss," Arnold told the Loeh family, who had hoped she would be sentenced to time in jail.
Arnold, who was initially charged with assault with serious injury, did spend three days in jail after returning to Raleigh to face the second-degree murder charge.
Kurtz said his client never intended to hurt anyone, and Stanback felt Arnold's time would have been better spent serving the community than in jail.
Arnold, who has no prior criminal history, was also ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution. Stanback said her clean record factored into his decision.
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings said that he had hoped for at least a year in jail.
Some of Loeh's family members made statements in court, but had no comment to the news media after court proceedings.
Arnold will carry out her community service in Georgia.