Woman takes guilty plea for causing death

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

An early morning and ill-fated drive over the Ironton floodwall will take a woman to prison for four years.

But family and friends of the woman killed in that incident said four years is hardly long enough to compensate them for their loss.

Kimberly Delawder, 34, of 90 Pine St., Ironton, pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated vehicular homicide in the death of Kathleen Owens last September. In exchange for that guilty plea, a charge of involuntary manslaughter was dropped.

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Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton sentenced Delawder to four years in prison, gave her credit for the roughly six months she spent in jail awaiting resolution of her case and ordered her to surrender her driver’s license for 10 years.

On Sept. 17, 2005, the body of Kathleen Owens was found on the river side of the floodwall along Second Street near Buckeye Flea Market.

Delawder was arrested a few days later in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Delawder told the court she was sorry for what had happened but told Owens’ family that the death was accidental.

“I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. I never meant to hurt anyone. I hope God forgives me, too.”

But Owens’ mother, Betty Thompson said the death of her daughter had “torn her family apart” and forced some of them into counseling to deal with the aftermath. She begged Walton to impose the maximum sentence of 10 years.

“I don’t know how a person could just take a life like that and then just leave town,” Thompson said. … “This is killing me so bad.”

Thompson said after the sentencing that four years was not nearly enough time for what Delawder had done.

“You take a life and you get four years?” she cried. “That’s wrong. That’s not right. That’s not even a sentence.”

Delawder’s attorney, David Reid Dillon, had argued that his client had cooperated with authorities in their investigation, was remorseful about what had happened and had not gone to the riverbank with the purpose of killing anyone. Therefore, she deserved a lesser sentence, he said. Dillon told the court he intended to petition for judicial release at some point, which would mean that, if the judge would grant the petition, Delawder could be released from prison early. Walton said that was a matter to be addressed in the future.

(Editor’s note: A headline published last week may have caused confusion over the crime. Delawder was only charged with vehicular homicide, not murder.)