Update: Amanda Heiman was convicted Thursday of felony procuring of alcohol for a minor-resulting in death in connection with the December 2012 death of 18-year-old Jacob Dickmeyer.
* * *
Amanda Heiman is nothing more than a scapegoat for a series of bad decisions that led up to the death of 18-year-old Jacob Dickmeyer, a defense attorney told jurors Thursday in closing statements of Heiman's trial.
Among those making the bad decisions, according to attorney Michael Tasset: four current or former Fremont police officers.
The four were at the Fire Barn Bar in Waterloo, Neb., as Heiman, then 20, served Dickmeyer, 18, and his friend, Colby Burke, then 19. Heiman then gave them the keys to her Saturn, moments before Dickmeyer drove drunk and rolled the Saturn several times.
Heiman, now 21, faces up to five years in prison or five years of probation if convicted of felony procuring alcohol for a minor that results in the minor's death.
Tasset blasted the officers – Sgt. Michael Diers, Stuart Nadgwick (now with the La Vista Police Department), Adam Kully (now with Grand Island police) and Terry Luthy (now a Fremont firefighter).
He said the four drank with the young men and at least one bought drinks for them at Kully's going away-party at the Fire Barn. And, Tasset alleged, three of the officers tried to "whitewash" their actions by coordinating stories after the crash.
Tasset took particular exception with Diers, Nadgwick and Kully for not stopping at the scene of the crash.
The three testified that Dickmeyer tried to run Nadgwick off of West Dodge Road. And they all described Dickmeyer rocketing past them in a gold Saturn.
They all acknowledged that they didn't stop to help at the crash because, they all claimed, they didn't see Dickmeyer's car roll more than a half-dozen times after veering into the median. They instead said they called 911 only to report "reckless driving" by Dickmeyer.
Tasset contradicted those claims by playing a statement Diers gave to Omaha police officers investigating the crash.
In a statement a day after the crash, Diers had told investigators that Kully, in his passenger seat, "call(ed) 911 in regards to the accident and (911 operators) stated that they had already received another call or something to that effect about the accident."
Tasset also suggested the state was being duplicitous in holding Heiman responsible but not the officers who also bought a round of drinks for the teens.
"This could have been prevented – by (officers) who knew better," Tasset said.
Tasset said Heiman was guilty of misdemeanor procuring of alcohol – for providing alcohol to Dickmeyer – but was "not a killer" and was not guilty of the felony version.
He pointed out how many others had purchased alcohol that weekend for Dickmeyer, whose blood-alcohol content measured .24, three times the legal limit for those 21 and over.
At least four people provided alcohol to Dickmeyer that weekend. Only one faces a felony: Heiman.
"All because of Amanda?" Tasset asked. "We don't know if it was because of her at all. We don't know what put (Dickmeyer) over the top."
Prosecutor Matt Kuhse suggested jurors don't have to know. Under the law, a server is guilty of felony procuring of alcohol if the alcohol he or she provides to a minor contributes "in whole or in part" to the minor's death.
Kuhse said the officers are the ones being used as scapegoats – nothing more than distractions for a defense attorney to deflect attention from his client. He noted the officers had no reason to believe that Dickmeyer and his friend, Colby Burke, were underage – in part because Heiman had been serving them that night.
"While you may find their actions reprehensible, ethically wrong, morally wrong. . . they didn't contribute in any way to (Dickmeyer's) death," Kuhse told jurors. "They put (Dickmeyer) into the passenger's seat. One (Luthy) even offered them a ride home."
Kuhse pointed out that, unlike the officers, Heiman knew the ages of Dickmeyer and Burke. She had been trained to not serve minors. And she specifically had been told by an older server not to provide alcohol to "those boys."
"This deal with the Fremont police officers – the reason they're being mentioned is they're the only ones whose behavior is as questionable as Amanda Heiman's," Kuhse told jurors. "But does that in any way absolve Amanda Heiman? It does not."