SOMERVILLE, N.J. – A former “Melrose Place” actress who was drunk when her SUV plowed into a car and killed a woman was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison, infuriating the victim’s relatives, who had hoped for the 10-year maximum.
“What a travesty!” the victim’s husband, Fred Seeman, yelled after the sentence was read.
“This is not justice,” the victim’s 26-year-old son, Ford Seeman, told the judge before he stormed out of the courtroom.
A jury in November convicted Amy Locane-Bovenizer of vehicular homicide in the 2010 death of 60-year-old Helene Seeman in Montgomery Township.
Locane-Bovenizer will be eligible for parole after 2 1/2 years and will be credited the 81 days she has already served. She also had her license suspended for five years and will be on probation for three years after her release. She must pay several thousand dollars in fines.
Locane-Bovenizer, who didn’t testify at the trial, appeared in 13 episodes of TV’s “Melrose Place” and in movies including “Cry-Baby,” ”School Ties” and “Secretary.”
Prosecutors say she was driving with a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit when her SUV slammed into a Mercury Milan driven by Fred Seeman as he was turning into his driveway. Fred Seeman’s wife, Helene, was killed, and he was seriously injured.
During the trial, the defence argued that Fred Seeman was making a slow turn, which contributed to the crash. They maintained that it was an accident, not a crime.
The defence also shifted blame to a third motorist who they say distracted the actress by honking at her and chasing her after being rear-ended. They said the chase led Locane-Bovenizer to drive 20 miles over the speed limit on a dark two-lane road.
The judge lowered the maximum sentence citing the hardship on Locane-Bovenizer’s two young children. One has a serious medical and mental disability. The defence went into detail about how her sick child was deteriorating physically and psychologically since the actress’ incarceration and about how a prolonged sentence would make it worse.
“I’m just glad her little girls will have their mother back soon,” Locane-Bovenizer’s mother, Helen Locane, said as she walked out of the courtroom.
In an emotionally charged statement, Fred Seeman told the court that the defence contention that his vehicle was turning slowly added “salt on the wound,” and he said he was appalled that Locane-Bovenizer took no responsibility for killing his wife.
The actress, in turn, apologized to Seeman’s family and said she did take full responsibility.
“I am truly sorry for all of the pain I have caused,” she said, struggling to get through her statement, as she looked toward the family that packed one side of the courtroom while her friends and family packed the other. “My own suffering will never go away.”
Judge Robert Reed said that he had no sympathy for the actress but that the children should not suffer even more because of her actions.
The Seeman family said after the sentencing that the decision was a “mockery” and only added to the suffering they’ve endured since the accident.
“What’s one more punch in the gut?” Ford Seeman said.