VALPARAISO — A Munster woman who pleaded guilty to causing a fatal drunken driving crash in 2014 will be able to complete the last few months of her sentence at home if she qualifies.
But she was also given an additional year of probation as part of the order from Judge Pro-Tem Mark Chargualaf, who was sitting in for Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer.
Julie Dwyer, 47, who was moved in the spring from prison to the residential Kimbrough work release program in Lake County, had requested an early and immediate release.
Her attorney, Gary Germann, said Dwyer has endured time in a maximum security prison, did not set out with the intention to commit her crime and is unable to begin paying back nearly a quarter of a million dollars in a civil settlement she owes the victim's family.
Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Tammy Gregg countered that "enough is enough" with Dwyer's repeated attempts to ease her sentence, which already has been reduced from six to four years.
Dwyer pleaded guilty to driving with a blood alcohol count of more than twice the legal limit on Oct. 28, 2014, when she swerved out of her southbound lane on Ind. 49, struck a guardrail and then overcorrected to collide head-on with a northbound vehicle driven by Timothy Jacobs, of Knox. The crash occurred on the bridge over the Kankakee River and Jacobs died en route to the hospital.
Chargualaf dismissed an argument by prosecutors that Dwyer had already used all her opportunities to modify her sentence, but voiced "grave concerns" about her most-recent request.
Dwyer has been in work release since April, "but has only managed to see her therapist twice in that time," Chargualaf said.
"These factors are troubling in that the Defendant has made such treatment at least part of her argument to modify her current sentence," Chargualaf wrote in his order.
Dwyer also has a "litany of financial obligations," including $125,000 in outstanding IRS liability and money owed to the victim's family.
"The court's concern with these issues is that the Defendant used similar arguments as purported mitigating factors to explain her mental state prior to the instant offense," the judge wrote.
The remaining 180 days of Dwyer's sentence is to be spent on electronic monitoring and home detention if she qualifies, according to Chargualaf. If she does not qualify, then she is to serve the balance of her time in work release.
Dwyer is also ordered to receive mental health therapy/counseling and provide proof within 14 days of the order.