CASPER, Wyo. -- A Casper woman charged with vehicular homicide after allegedly huffing dust cleaner last November has pleaded not guilty to the felony.
Heather Marie Christensen entered her plea Thursday during an arraignment before Natrona County District Judge Catherine Wilking. The 39-year-old appeared in court wearing a blue jumpsuit and in a wheelchair.
She is accused of being behind the wheel of a Jeep pickup that crashed near the intersection of 13th Street and Wyoming Boulevard on Nov. 14. A passenger in the vehicle -- 50-year-old Richard Dean Condelario -- suffered severe chest trauma when the truck hit a utility pole. Condelario was pronounced dead after being taken to Wyoming Medical Center.
Officers say Christensen was driving the truck north on Wyoming Boulevard when it struck another vehicle before hitting the pole. Witnesses told investigators that the Jeep did not appear to attempt to brake before impact.
Authorities say Christensen was huffing dust cleaner before the crash occurred. A detective with the Casper Police Department testified at an earlier court hearing that video footage from the west Casper Walmart shows Condelario and Christensen buying a can of dust cleaner minutes before the crash, which occurred about noon.
The detective also testified that receipts show the two friends purchased dust cleaner at the east Casper Walmart that same morning.
Investigators say they found two cans of dust cleaner at the crash site: one outside the Jeep, one its cab.
Christensen, in a subsequent interview with authorities, claimed to have purchased the cleaner to clean a computer. She admitted, though, to huffing some of the product in the west Casper Walmart's parking lot shortly before the fatal crash, police say.
Christensen, who suffered several broken bones in the crash, faces a maximum possible penalty of 20 years behind bars if convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide.
A jury trial will be scheduled.
She remains in the Natrona County Detention Center on a $50,000 bond.