Teen will go to prison for five years in death

-A A +A
By The Staff

    SHEPHERDSVILLE - A Bullitt County teenager will serve a five-year sentence in prison for the July 15, 2009, death of Joshua Bartley.

    Heather Woloch, 19, recently entered a guilty plea to reckless homicide in the death of Bartley, who was a passenger in her car last July.

    While attorney Douglas Vowels sought probation for his client, Circuit Judge Rodney Burress said that would depreciate the seriousness of the crime.

    The decision came after an emotional hearing.

    Melissa Bartley, mother of the victim, couldn’t hold back tears as she addressed Woloch and the court.

    “When Josh died, part of us died with him,” said Melissa. “Josh is there in my every thought.”

    She said Woloch had shown no remorse after the death and it hurts her family and friends to see that she is able to walk out of a courtroom with her family and continue with her life.

    “His future was stolen from us,” said Bartley. “What she did was more than a mistake.”   

     In reaching a decision, Bartley asked Burress to do what was right.

    “Please send a clear message,” said Bartley. “There must be consequences.”

    Woloch was 18 at the time of the incident. Since Bartley did not have a driver’s license due to prior DUI charges, she said she always drove the pair, who had been together a short period of time.

    “It was my fault,” Woloch told prosecutor Michael Mann. “I was intoxicated.”

    She said she tried to kill herself five days later due to the guilt. That would send her to Our Lady of Peace.

    Just minutes from Bartley’s Mount Washington home, the victim’s brother, John, had passed Woloch on Bardstown Road. Then Woloch passed John Bartley’s vehicle at a high rate of speed. When she saw an on-coming car, she swerved back into her lane and lost control. The vehicle flipped and Joshua Bartley would later die.

    “I’m so sorry,” said Woloch. “There is no excuse.”

    She was an honor graduate in 2009 from Bullitt Central and was even a member of the school’s SADD group, which talks about destructive decisions relating to things like drugs and alcohol.

    Her father, Charles, said that his daughter had changed. She was attending college but didn’t have the same drive and determination. “She’s a different person,” said her father. “She’s not the same girl.”

    While Vowels argued for probation, Mann said there is no better example of not granting that request due to the seriousness of the crime.

    “There must be a consequence,” Mann echoed Melissa Bartley’s statement.

    As a member of the SADD group, Mann said Woloch should have known the situation.

    “She made that decision that evening to operate that motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol,” said Mann. “That consequence must be incarceration.”

    In making his decision, Burress said it was one that tore at his heart. He knew both families and he said his heart went out to each.

    While he didn’t have concern over whether Woloch would commit another criminal offense and he wasn’t sure incarceration was needed to treat the defendant, Burress agreed with Mann that probation would depreciate the seriousness of the crime.

    The judge said Woloch had consumed alcohol previously and knew its affect on her body. And she was a member of the SADD group that should have given her more insight into the affects of the substance, which was illegal for her to consume since she was under 21.

    He sentenced Woloch to five years in prison for the Class D felony. Originally, she was charged with manslaughter, a Class C felony that could be punishable by 5-10 years in prison.

    Since it was a guilty plea, there is no appeal of the sentence. Typically, she would serve 20 percent of the sentence, or one year, before being eligible for parole.