Not guilty plea to felony charges in fatal crash

Crystal Steinheimer, 20, of Red Bud, appeared in a Monroe County courtroom for the first time Thursday to answer to charges of aggravated DUI and reckless homicide in front of Judge Dennis Doyle.

She entered a plea of not guilty on both charges, which stem from a fatal Jan. 10 head-on crash south of Hecker on Route 159. Steinheimer’s northbound 2008 Chevrolet Aveo crossed the center line shortly after 10:30 p.m., police said, colliding with a southbound 2007 Chevy Cobalt driven by Abby Liefer, 19. Liefer and a passenger in her car, Hannah Porter, 20, died from injuries sustained in the crash. A third occupant of Liefer’s car, Grace Richards, suffered relatively minor injuries. All four women are from the Red Bud area.

Steinheimer was airlifted to a St. Louis hospital for treatment of serious injuries sustained in the crash.

Steinheimer was present in court without an attorney Thursday, with her left leg in a removable cast up to her knee and using the aid of a walker. She was released on her own recognizance, meaning she did not have to post bail. If she should miss any upcoming court appearances, her bail would be set at $10,000. She was also appointed a public defender.

The charge of aggravated DUI carries a sentence of six to 28 years — 85 percent of which would have to be served, according to Judge Doyle, as well as a maximum fine of $25,000. The reckless homicide charge carries a sentence of two to five years, which Doyle said can be reduced day-for-day for good behavior and a maximum $25,000 fine.

Steinheimer’s next court appearance is a preliminary hearing set for June 25 at 10:30 a.m. She is not allowed to operate a motor vehicle as a condition of her bail bond in connection with this case.

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Andrea F.D. Saathoff

Andrea is a graduate of Gibault High School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Education. She lives in Columbia with her husband and their twin toddler sons. When she isn't cheering on St. Louis Cardinals baseball or riding the emotional roller coaster of Mizzou Tigers football, she enjoys attending and participating in the many family events the county has to offer. email:
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