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Woman Sentenced For Death Of 5-Year Old

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By Paul Johnson

STAR, Idaho (KBOI) - A Star woman charged with manslaughter after officials say she caused a crash that killed a 5-year-old boy has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Helen C. Burgess was driving a Ford Explorer when she drove into the back of a Dodge Caravan that was stopped at the intersection of Highway 44 and Highway 16 in June 2012.

Five-year-old Alvin Strauss died the following day as a result of his injuries.

On Tuesday, a judge sentenced Burgess to 15 years in prison. She will have to serve two years behind bars before she's eligible for parole.

The Ada County Sheriff's Office says Burgess was under the influence of several different prescription drugs at levels that caused her to be impaired at the time of the crash.

Burgess' attorney, Michael Nelson, read a letter that Helen had wrote:

"I wish everyday I could take it back," she said in the letter. "I wish for my death instead of his - please know how truly sorry I am."

"The death of Alvin will forever be in my heart," she said.

Nelson said his client is in a fragile state.

"She's pretty emotional - it's just tough," Nelson said outside court. "She's taking it pretty tough right now, but it's just one of those things, it's tough for everyone (including the victim's family)."

Burgess said he felt the judge's sentence wasn't a surprise.

"I thought what the judge did was very fair," Nelson said. "He was very clear laying out the reasons why he imposed the prison sentence."

Burgess will have her license suspended for life.


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