Not guilty plea to felony charges in fatal crash

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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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