Wral.com, June 26, 2006
Raleigh, N.C. — A shopper charged with second-degree murder in connection with an argument that ended another woman’s life will face no additional jail time after she accepted a plea deal on Monday.
As part of the deal, Kimberly Arnold, 39, apologized and pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of Gina Loeh, 52.
Authorities said that Arnold, of Powder Springs, Ga., shoved Loeh, who was blind and in poor health, so hard that she fell backward and hit her head on the pavement outside Ross Dress in Triangle Town Center.
Loeh’s death seven days later was ruled a homicide.
Authorities said Arnold and the victim had been arguing inside the department store about who was next in line at the checkout counter. Arnold’s attorney, Howard Kurtz, said his client was provoked when Loeh called her a derogatory term.
Arnold could have faced up to five years in prison under the involuntary manslaughter charge, but Wake County Superior Court Judge Leon Stanback sentenced her to 200 hours of community service, calling the case one in which everybody loses.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Arnold told the Loeh family, who had hoped she would be sentenced to time in jail.
Arnold, who was initially charged with assault with serious injury, did spend three days in jail after returning to Raleigh to face the second-degree murder charge.
Arnold, who has no prior criminal history, was also ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution. Stanback said her clean record factored into his decision.
Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings said he believes the racial slur also factored into the lenient sentence and that he had hoped for at least a year in jail.