CONROE, Texas -- A 28-year-old Conroe woman is charged with felony murder in a fatal crash that killed her 8-month-old daughter.
Ashli Heil is the first woman charged with first-degree felony murder in southeast Texas, prosecutors with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said.
According to prosecutors, Heil was driving drunk and speeding with her daughter in the backseat when, on April 2, 2012, she crossed into oncoming traffic on FM 1484 and smashed into a tree.
The baby, Whilow Heil, was found dead in her car seat at the scene.
Ashli Heil had to be extricated from the vehicle and was airlifted to the hospital.
Prosecutor Warren Diepraam explained that felony murder is known as Texas’ accidental murder statute, because it does not require the prosecution to prove that the defendant intended to cause death.
It only requires them to prove that the defendant committed a clearly dangerous act to human life in the process of committing another felony.
DWI with a child in the car is a state jail felony in Texas.
"DWI is the most frequently committed crime in Montgomery County, but is also the most preventable," Diepraam said, adding that he hopes the charges send a message that the DA’s office takes crimes against children seriously.
If convicted of felony murder, Ashli Heil could face anywhere from five years to life in prison.