Prison for woman who hit former sheriff | NevadaAppeal.com

Prison for woman who hit former sheriff

Steve Puterski
sputerski@lahontanvalleynews.com

A Fallon woman who collided with former Churchill County Sheriff Rich Ingram was sentenced Tuesday in District Court.

Jennifer Czichotzki bursted into tears after she received 12-36 months in prison for the March 26 collision.

"I don't get to say bye to my family?" Czichotzki asked Tenth Judicial District Court Judge Tom Stockard.

As she was taken into custody and led to the jail by sheriff's deputies, Czichotzki could be heard repeating "Oh my God."

Stockard said he considered probation, but the fact Czichotzki left the scene and nearly hit Ingram again was an overwhelming factor.

"You left the scene of an accident," Stockard added. "Those actions we can't tolerate."

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Czichotzki was under the influence of alcohol with a .127 blood-alcohol level, more than four-tenths higher than the legal limit when she rear-ended Ingram near the intersection of McLean Road and U.S. Highway 50.

She pleaded guilty Aug. 26 to one felony count of neglect of duty in willful or wanton disregard of persons resulting in substantial bodily harm.

In court, Churchill County Chief Deputy District Attorney Lane Mills argued for a prison sentence citing her cavalier answers after an evaluation at New Frontier. Mill cited Czichotzki's response to her legal situation as "moderately serious" and also offered to pay Ingram after the collision so it would not be reported to police.

In addition, Czichotzki was well aware of her actions during the moment when she put her car into reverse and sped off, Mills added.

"It sends a signal," Mills told the court. "You cannot hurt someone and speed away, especially when you're drunk."

Czichotzki's attorney, James Sloan, though, detailed a troubled client who should be referred to a treatment facility to battle alcohol and drug issues.

Sloan said Czichotzki's problem began when she was 5 when her parents introduced her to alcohol and marijuana.

Sloan dropped a bombshell when he said Czichotzki was molested as a child, her mother committed suicide, his client had "suicidal-type behavior" and that she may not be competent based on previous medications prescribed to her. He asked for a motion to continue the matter until a competency evaluation could be performed.

Sloan said his client was on four different medications the day of the incident and the combination of medication caused black outs.

"Her background is alarming," Sloan said. "She is not mentally stable … and has an anxiety complex."

Stockard, though, canvassed Czichotzki about her understanding of the court proceedings.

Czichotzki told Stockard she was facing charges because she hit Ingram, discussed the case and possible outcomes with Sloan and that she understood the severity of the charge. She also told the court she would like to seek mental health treatment.

Mills, meanwhile, said he believed Czichotzki was competent and requested to proceed with sentencing.

"She knows what was going on," he added. "I find it a little suspect."

Stockard denied Sloan's request.

Czichotzki had a previous driving under the influence arrest in Idaho. She was also ordered to pay $5, 347.41 in restitution.

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