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  • HELIUM DEATH SENTENCINGS

    2 sentenced in helium death

    Katherine McAloon, 28, will serve 28 months in prison for her role in 14-year-old's death
  • In a tear-filled courtroom Tuesday, a man and woman admitted their roles in the death of an eighth-grade girl who died after inhaling helium at a 2012 party.
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  • In a tear-filled courtroom Tuesday, a man and woman admitted their roles in the death of an eighth-grade girl who died after inhaling helium at a 2012 party.
    Katherine McAloon, 28, and Richard Mowery, 32, faced multiple charges in the February 2012 death of 14-year-old Ashley Long. Prosecutors said they provided helium at a party for teens and delayed medical care when Ashley collapsed from an embolism that ultimately killed her.
    McAloon was convicted of criminal mistreatment charges after she agreed — in what is called an Alford plea — that the facts of the case would likely lead to a guilty ruling if it went to trial. She also pleaded guilty to a charge of delivering marijuana to a minor and three counts of furnishing alcohol to minors.
    Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia sentenced her to 28 months in prison, along with three years of post-prison supervision and about $300 in restitution. (Correction: see below)
    She will be eligible for early release.
    Mowery pleaded no contest to criminally negligent homicide, for which he will serve 90 days in the Jackson County Jail and three years post-prison supervision. He must pay more than $10,000 in restitution. Both were taken into custody immediately after their sentencing.
    In a courtroom filled with Ashley's friends and family, her stepfather, Justin Earp, described her as a bright, compassionate girl who had a 3.5 grade-point average, aspired to be a marine biologist, and was loyal to her friends. "She was the type of girl that would befriend the kid in school that no one else would," Earp said.
    Mother Lori Earp read a written statement to the court, saying the incident has altered her life forever. "This is all I have left," she said, holding up a lock of Ashley's hair in a small plastic bag.
    Prosecutors and the defense said the sentence lengths are tied to the evidence, which showed the incident wasn't malicious, but a result of poor decisions.
    "It's really the facts of the case," said Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert.
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