A Michigan City man is facing a possible prison term of up to 12 years after
pleading guilty to three charges in connection with the accident last year
which claimed the life of Beverly Shores cardiologist Morton Arnsdorf.
Timothy Hefner, 18—who was 17 at the time of the crash and subsequently
waived into adult court—has pleaded guilty to operating while intoxicated
with a blood alcohol content over .08 percent—causing death, a Class C
felony punishable by a term of two to eight years in prison; OWI with a
B.A.C. of over .08 percent-causing serious bodily injury, a Class D felony
punishable by a term of six months to three years; and criminal
recklessness, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a term of up to a year,
Porter County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Bennett told the
Chesterton Tribune today.
A total of 11 charges were originally filed against Hefner—seven felonies
and four misdemeanors—but under Indiana Code all lesser and included charges
must be dismissed with a plea to the most serious. The Class C felony to
which Hefner has pleaded guilty was filed in connection with Arnsdorf’s
death; the Class D felony, in connection with the injury of Hefner’s own
Under the plea-and-argue arrangement, Bennett said, Hefner could be
sentenced to a maximum of 12 years. Sentenced is scheduled for May 2 before
Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford.
Bennett noted that Hefner was just arrested on Saturday by Michigan City
Police on a charge of OWI with an alleged B.A.C. of .13 percent. That most
recent charge may not be used as an aggravating factor in Hefner’s
May 2 sentencing, as it’s a separate case which occurred after the fact.
It’s possible, on the other hand, that Saturday’s charge may play into any
considerations of leniency entertained by Bradford, Bennett added.
According to the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, at 5:32 p.m. on June 2
Hefner was eastbound on U.S. Highway 20 at a high rate of speed when he rear
ended Arnsdorf as Arnsdorf was slowing his 2007 Saab to turn left onto
northbound C.R. 300E. The impact drove Arnsdorf’s Saab across the center
line and into the westbound lanes of U.S. 20, police said, where he was
struck by an oncoming 2003 Mercury driven by John Merrell, 62, of Portage.
The Saab, with Arnsdorf in it, became engulfed in flames and Arnsdorf was
pronounced dead at the scene. The Coroner’s Office later said that the
collision rendered Arnsdorf immediately unconscious.
Hefner himself was airlifted to a South Bend hospital with unspecified
In August, Juvenile Court Magistrate Edward Nemeth waived Hefner into adult
court and ordered him moved from the Juvenile Detention Center to the Porter
County Jail, after finding that Hefner’s alleged offenses are “part of a
repetitive and escalating pattern of offenses ranging from status offenses
to Class C felonies, with Hefner’s recording “nine separate referrals with
10 different offenses, with his first referral shortly before his 10th
Nemeth also observed that Hefner “has not been in school since he was in
ninth grade” and concluded that “the child is beyond rehabilitation under
the juvenile justice system.”
According to the University of Chicago Medical Center’s website, Arnsdorf
was a “nationally known cardiologist” who served as chief of the UC Section
of Cardiology for nine years, a master of the American College of
Cardiology—an honor bestowed on fewer than 50 cardiologists in the
nation—and an “accomplished researcher” whose interests included
arrhythmias, hypertension, and atherosclerosis.