Retired police officer from Winchester convicted of killing 20-year-old to be sentenced

VISTA – A retired police drunken driving investigator from Winchester, who drove drunk and killed a 20-year-old Perris man on Interstate 15 near Rainbow, faces up to nine years in state prison today.

Katherine Ann Heinzel, 51, was convicted last year of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the Nov. 19, 2011, collision that killed Davieonne Dwayne Kelly. She was sentenced Friday in Vista.

The defendant is a retired Newport Beach police officer who lives in Winchester, in Riverside County. In her career, she worked as a drunken driving crime scene investigator, prosecutors said.

She had a blood alcohol content of at least .13 as she piloted her car at high speed on I-15 near Lilac Road in the 1:50 a.m. crash. It rear-ended a Toyota Camry driven by Kelly, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The impact caused both vehicles to go through a guardrail and down a steep embankment. Kelly died at the scene and two of his passengers were hurt, along with Heinzel, said Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior.

According to the CHP, Heinzel had retired from the Newport Beach Police Department and was not employed in law enforcement at the time of the crash.

18 Responses to "Retired police officer from Winchester convicted of killing 20-year-old to be sentenced"

  1. fallbrook resident   January 12, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    That’s all she got? She is a former law enforcement specialized in dui cases she should know better not to drive intoxicated. Give her 25 to life cause she will get out in 2 3 years and do it again.

  2. A 53 yr old Grandma   January 12, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Unfortunately that is the sentence for DUI Vehicular Manslaughter. And yes they get out in 2 or 3, if a "STAR" they get out in 1.
    Our sentencing for DUI’ accidents and deaths, and for molestation of children was written up by a drunk child molester I believe.

    Seriously, in either catagory, and I believe why they repeat and repeat, they get a slap on the wrist and go and do it again. While they are in jail for that short time they get a nice cushy jail assignment to keep them away from real criminals who kill child molesters.
    And DUIs just serve their time in the local jocal jails, county instead of prison. So its just not scary enough for them.

    Everyone needs to get on the same track and get something done about these sentences for these crimes, and make the perpetrator actually pay for what they have done. :/

  3. Another Fallbrook Resident   January 12, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    A friend of mine got 7 years for a BUI and a history of DUI’s last January after seriously injuring and disabling his best friend, with California’s, prison population, he got out in 8 months. Since this person was a former police officer, the would segregate them which means they even have less room for them so maybe six months?

  4. WOW   January 12, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    I had 3 family members wiped out by a drunk driver. All he got was 10 years for killing 3 people. While he was out on bail, he got a DUI just 3 blocks from where he killed my family. I can’t believe that’s all people get for vehicular manslaughter.

  5. IBAM   January 12, 2013 at 11:30 pm


  6. fred waynsborow   January 12, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    The death penalty would be more of justice to people like her!what gets me is when she was a cop she worked as an investigator for drunk driving cases & hear she does the same kind of thing that she use to investigate!give her the death penalty!!!

  7. Cimarron   January 12, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    I have had friends in law enforcement & in my experience, they are the ones, of my friend base anyway, most likely to be driving under the influence. They think they can get away with it by flashing their badge.

  8. Preston   January 13, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Not long ago drinking and driving was more excepted — The legal limit was .12 when I was younger. Often police would help you get home rather than arrest you so when you consider that many with that mind set are still around it is going to take a while to make progress — Probably also explains the reason some of those standing in judgement still tend to be lenient.
    Texting is probably just as dangerous if not more so than someone with a blood alcohol of .13

  9. WOW   January 13, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Cimarron is correct when she says that they(law enforcement) are the ones most likely to be driving under the influence because they they think they can get away with it by flashing their badge. THEY DO get away with it.

    Cops call it "extending professional courtesy."
    Translation: "Since I am a cop, look the other way. Just because I enforce the law, doesn’t mean I have to obey it. I am somehow superior to any laws because I am in a position of authority."

    Sorry, but "professional courtesy" is a free pass to disobey the law. Law enforcement should be punished just like anybody else, if they break the law. I can understand the people who feel the punishment should be harsher for a former DUI investigator. It is pretty hypocritical to get arrested for the very crime you enforced.

  10. Me   January 13, 2013 at 10:12 am

    That’s why "emotion" shouldn’t be involved in sentencing.

    DUI is bad yes…especially higher BAC’s….as in .18 .22 .28

    But the mere fact that a person has alcohol in their blood does NOT automatically mean that the alcohol necessarily had anything to do with it. She was speeding. Lots of people speed.

    People die every day in vehicle crashes that DON’T involve alcohol. Should they be given 20 year sentences too? If not WHY? Dead is dead right?

    How about the even bigger problem on the roads…..TEXTING?

    The average cell phone "talker" has been compared to a .10 to .12 BAC level. "Texters" are even worse….leaning toward .15 BAC equivalent.

    Shouldn’t they get 20 years too if they cause a crash?

    The truly bad part is that there are 20 times more texters than DUI’s….thus they are hugely more dangerous.

    But no outrage there…..just more calls for DUI penalty increases.

    So many people have this false notion that DUI’s are "out of control" when in fact DUI’s are at an all time low.

    A quote from NTSA: "The number of people dying in crashes on California roads as a result of someone driving under the influence reached its lowest level in modern history.
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that 791 people died in DUI-related crashes in 2010.
    Wayne Ziese, a spokesman for the California Office of Traffic Safety, said Friday that’s the lowest DUI death total in approximately four decades."

    Just a little prospective…. (and no I don’t drink alcohol…never have).

  11. Joemamma   January 13, 2013 at 11:07 am

    My ex inlaws were both police officers up north, one was DPS and one was a local sheriff deputy. They used to laugh and tell me the story of when they got so drunk at home they wanted to see how drunk they were so they drove down to the station to give themselves breathalizer tests. As officers they had zero respect for actually observing the law. That has actually been the case for most of the officers I’ve met in person. I just keep my mouth shut and scream inside.

  12. Me   January 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Third sentence should read "had anything to do with the accident."

  13. Fallbrook Mom   January 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    To Joemamma:
    I am so sorry but I have to agree with you! I know that officers are human beings too, they make mistakes like us all but there has to be a bar to raise somewhere.

    I feel like SD county spends more money on the institution than it does on protecting its individuals. This is just a sad proof that we are powerless to do anything about corruption.

    Someday, if I recover from my disability, I want to become an officer. I want to be the best I can, if I do, even if its paperwork filing. I hope some day I can improve the conditions of the police forces around our area.

  14. Fallbrook Mom   January 14, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    @ Comment 10

    You have a great point that should be acknowledged. I wish people were more apt to look at statistics rather than judge. I hope that some day that opinions are based on statistical inference rather than the shaped opinions society plasters on human behavior.

  15. so sad   January 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    this is all so sad and disappointing…prayers for the family that lost their loved one

  16. Joe od riverside   January 14, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    I read much simpathy for this witch!!The death penalty should be given & nothing short of it period!!!!

  17. alex   January 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    thats so sad im heart and prayers go to the families who were involved in this so sad why do we have to live in a world of bad peolpe like this

  18. Me   January 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks Fallbrook Mom. Although I spent 10 years in law enforcement myself and made my shares of DUI arrests back east, I’m a firm believer in statistical data, common sense, and rational responses.

    (Hope you are able to achieve your goal of entering LE).


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