Chesterton Tribune

MC man to serve 12 years for OWI that killed local cardiologist

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A Michigan City man who pleaded guilty to driving drunk when he rear ended Beverly Shores cardiologist Morton Arnsdorf last year—killing the physician in a fiery crash on U.S. Highway 20—was sentenced on Monday to a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.

Timothy Hefner, 18—who was 17 at the time of the crash and subsequently waived into adult court—was given the maximum sentence on each of the three counts to which he’d pleaded guilty.

Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford, citing aggravating circumstances, sentenced Hefner to eight years for operating while intoxicated-causing death, a Class C felony punishable by a term of two to eight years; to three years for driving while intoxicated-causing serious bodily injury, a Class D felony punishable by a term of six months to three years; and to one year for criminal recklessness with a vehicle, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a term of up to a year.

“The court finds as aggravating circumstances the defendant’s history of delinquent behavior,” Bradford stated in his sentencing order; the fact that the victim, Arnsdorf, was at least 65; and the fact that Hefner was arrested on a new charge of OWI while on pre-trial release.

“The court finds as a mitigating circumstance the fact that the defendant has accepted responsibility by pleading guilty,” Bradford added. “The court does not find the defendant’s young age as a mitigating circumstance because had Count I”—the Class C felony—“been committed by a person 21 years of age or older, it would have been a Class B felony. Because of the defendant’s age, it is only a C felony.”

“Because the aggravating circumstances so far outweigh the mitigating, the court orders all three sentences to run consecutive with each other for a total sentence of 12 years in the Indiana Department of Correction,” Bradford ordered. “None of that sentence is suspended.”

Bradford also ordered Hefner to pay restitution of $12,000 and recommended that his driving privileges be suspended for five years after his release from prison.

According to the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, at 5:32 p.m. June 2, 2010, 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 lane 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 probably rendered Arnsdorf immediately unconscious.

Hefner himself was airlifted to South Bend hospital with unspecified injuries.

In August 2010, Juvenile Court Magistrate Edward Nemeth ordered Hefner waived into adult court, citing Hefner’s “repetitive and escalating pattern of offenses,” with “nine separate referrals with 10 different offenses, with his first referral shortly before his 10th birthday.”

On March 19, 2011, Hefner was arrested by Michigan City Police on a charge of OWI with an alleged blood alcohol content of .13 percent.

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.


Posted 5/3/2011