CINCINNATI — A woman who previously served a prison sentence for a drunk-driving crash that killed a man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday for another crash she caused while driving high.
Judge Patrick Dinkelacker sentenced 35-year-old Michelle Lake for one count each of vehicular assault and aggravated vehicular assault during an emotional hearing that included testimony from Lake, the father of her child and one of the victims.
Lake was driving north on Lafeuille Avenue in Westwood at about 9:32 a.m. on Dec. 6, 2018 when she went left of center and hit an oncoming vehicle, seriously injuring the driver and a front-seat passenger. Authorities found cocaine, fentanyl and methadone in Lake's system at the time, and her driver license had been suspended after her 2006 drunk driving crash that killed a passenger in her car.
"You're like a ticking time bomb," Dinkelacker said to Lake during sentencing. "You're not afraid to drive even though you're not allowed to. You're taking heroin and, over the years, have not done a lot to address that. You put the two together, and this is where you end up."
One of the victims, Jody Cox, said she's still recovering from her injuries.
"It was hard," she said. "I still have issues. I still have aches. I still can't walk right. I still have emotional issues."
Cox said her 2-year-old son was also in the back of the car at the time of the crash, but was uninjured thanks to his car seat.
"My whole family's been affected," she said. "This has been a big deal financially, mentally, emotionally. I mean, this has taken a very big impact on my life and my family's life, and all I was doing was driving down the wrong street — the wrong street — at the wrong time with my family in the car."
Prosecutors asked the judge for the 10-year sentence, citing Lake's past record and her "raging substance abuse issues." Lake had a blood alcohol concentration of .242 — three times the legal limit — at the time of her 2006 crash, and also had marijuana in her system, according to court records.
Lake's defense attorney, Alexandria Thurner, asked the judge for a more lenient sentence, saying that Lake is a mother with no criminal record outside of incidents related to her addiction. Lake cried as Thurner also described Lake's 2-year-old son, who was recently diagnosed with autism.
"These demons haunt me every day, and the night before the accident these demons took advantage of the weak state of mind I was in," Lake said, reading a letter. "The decisions that followed will haunt me and the victim's family and my family forever. I'm so very sorry for what happened. I wish so badly I could take that day back, and since I can't take it back I know I have to pay for what I've done."
Dinkelacker went with prosecutor's recommendation, giving Lake eight years in prison for the aggravated vehicular assault charge and two years for the vehicular assault charge, to be served consecutively. Additionally, Lake will be on probation for three years after she's released and will have her driver license suspended for life.
"I have to find that you are a danger to the community — your record, your lifestyle of using heroin," he said.