20 Yrs For Nurse Who Fled Police, Caused Crash
Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – A Dearborn County judge handed down the maximum sentence Friday for a woman who fled police and crashed with an 89-year-old woman she was supposed to be caring for as the passenger.
“I’m sorry. I don’t even want to use that word because it is so minute,” Kovats sobbed during her testimony to the family of Naomi Cooke.
The emotional sentencing hearing for drug addict Christina Kovats in Dearborn Superior Court I ended with Judge Jonathan Cleary giving the longtime drug addict 20 years in prison.
Following a four-day jury trial, Kovats was convicted April 19 of Neglect of a Dependant, OWI Causing Serious Bodily Injury, Resisting Law Enforcement, and Criminal Recklessness.
“I believe, somehow, my mom was chosen to stop Christina from hurting others,” said Angela Schmidt.
The 26-year-old nurse was hired last May by the family of Naomi Cooke, of Aurora, to watch after the woman who had suffered a stroke months earlier. On October 28, 2011 Kovats was driving Cooke home from a dance at a senior center when she stopped at a Milan area service station to fill up on gas.
Kovats left without paying. She argued during her own testimony that she thought she had paid for the gas by swiping a Social Security card.
Kovats, with Cooke as her passenger, was driving from the station on State Road 350 when a state police trooper attempted to stop her. She sped off at over 80 MPH, passing other vehicles before crashing near Aurora.
“I ran because I was speeding and I had pills on me,” she told Cleary. Kovats had become hooked on painkillers after being prescribed them for a back injury she had suffered at work.
Both she and Cooke were seriously injured in the wreck. Cooke spent her final six weeks of life in the hospital.
“She was in intense pain from the wreck until she died,” said Schmidt, adding it is unbearable having to drive past the accident scene during her commute each day.
Naomi was unable to carry on a conversation and only uttered her daughter’s name once after the crash, Schmidt said.
Cooke’s 15-year-old granddaughter Alley Schmidt said at times in the five months Kovats was hired to be a caretaker it appeared that Kovats loved Cooke.
“It’s funny how wrong you can be about someone,” said Schmidt.
Kovats would later testify that she got into home health care to help others and developed a close bond with Naomi.
“It hurts me so bad to hear I didn’t care for that woman,” she said. “My addiction made me somebody I am not.”
Defense attorney David Lynch portrayed Kovats as a single mother of three children with a fourth to be born in just weeks trying to get her life together.
“She has a good heart, despite her life going off the rails in a terrible way,” Lynch said.
Kovats discovered she was pregnant soon after her arrest. She surmised there was a reason she was given a new life when she had perhaps caused the loss of another.
Her other young children depend on her as well, Lynch said in an attempt to persuade the judge to consider purposeful incarceration for his client. Kovats’ son is struggling with potentially fatal cystic fibrosis.
“I don’t have room for another relapse. I’ve hurt so many people,” Kovats cried.
Prosecutor Aaron Negangard pointed at Kovats’ criminal history. She admitted to smoking marijuana when she was as young as 15. She had arrests for drug possession and OVI in 2006 and 2007, coupled with three instances of probation violation.
Before weighing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances and announcing the maximum sentence, Cleary read a quote from George Washington Carver.
“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these,” the judge said.