ST. GEORGE – In 5th District Court in St. George Wednesday, Carla Brennan was sentenced to serve 240 days in jail for her role in the 2013 death of David Henson. Brennan is accused of causing Henson’s death in a texting-while-driving incident. While she has admitted to speeding and other violations related to the fatal incident, she continues to deny texting was involved.
Brennan, 52, appeared before Judge G. Michael Westfall with attorney Edward Flint for sentencing Wednesday morning. Also appearing in court was Leslee Henson, David Henson’s wife, along with members of their family.
Brennan was originally charged with second-degree felony auto homicide, which carries a possible one- to 15-year prison term, but a plea deal reduced the charge to a third-degree felony for negligent auto homicide.
Brennan pleaded no contest to the reduced charge in June.
Deputy Washington County Attorney Zachary Weiland asked Westfall to sentence Brennan to a year in the Washington County County Purgatory Correctional Facility. Leslee Henson, David Henson’s wife, also requested Brennan serve the maximum amount of time possible.
“We’ve forgiven her,” Leslee Henson said, yet added she believed Brennan should be made responsible for her actions. She chose to drive a car that was unregistered and uninsured while also speeding over 60 mph down Dixie Drive while texting, Leslee Henson said.
“I think she needs to pay for those decisions,” she said prior to Brennan’s sentencing.
Leslee Henson was also a victim in the crash. She was severely injured in the incident but has since recovered from her injuries.
Brennan was late to work the morning of March 4, 2013, and was driving in excess of 20 mph over the speed limit on Dixie Drive. A witness told investigators he believed he saw Brennan looking down at her phone prior to rear-ending a car in front of her, which was driven by Frederick Konrath. Konrath lost control of his car, and it veered off the road and struck David and Leslee Henson, who had been out on a walk.
In the wake of the tragic event, the Henson family started an anti-texting-while-driving initiative that ultimately went statewide and led to the passage of a strict anti-texting/distracted driving law that took effect in 2014.
Flint said Brennan agreed with everything that had been said, except the texting.
“She adamantly denies she was texting while driving,” he said.
Two sentencing recommendations were put before Westfall. The first, from Adult Probation and Parole, suggested 240 days in jail, while the other, presented by the defense, recommended 120 days.
“Miss Brennan knows she is going to jail,” Flint said. “She caused great damage and harm (and) she has great remorse.”
Flint said similar auto homicide cases in Washington County have tended to carry a jail sentence of around 180 days. Anything beyond the recommendation of 240 days was more retribution than justice, he said.
Westfall ultimately sentenced Brennan to serve 240 days with the possibility of early release for good behavior. An additional 124 days will be served as in-home confinement, with the exception of going to work or looking for work. She will also serve 36 months probation and perform 100 hours of community service.
Overall, time served in jail and in-home confinement will be 364 days. Should Brennan be let out of jail early for good behavior, the balance of the remaining time will be served through in-home confinement, Flint said.
No fines were imposed by the court, as restitution has yet to be determined in a pending civil suit Leslee Henson has against Brennan.
In addition to the lawsuit against Brennan, Leslee Henson also has a civil suit filed against Frederick Konrath for any potential culpability he may have had in the accident. Despite this, Leslee Henson said, she and her family still share a friendly relationship with Konrath.
Konrath was not present during the sentencing, though he submitted a letter to the court, which was read by Weiland.
“David Henson paid the ultimate price with the loss of his life,” Konrath wrote, adding it was Brennan’s willful actions that caused the tragedy.
“I will never forget that day. … I will forever see and relive this tragic event,” Konrath wrote.
Following the sentencing, Flint said Brennan was relieved to hear the Hensons had forgiven her.
Once Brennan’s jail time and home confinement are served, Flint said, she will have to start her life over again, having become a pariah in Washington County since the 2013 incident. It got to the point she had to move to Littlefield, Arizona, to live and work.
“She’s just an average person who made a mistake,” Flint said, though he added it was a huge, criminal mistake.
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