A Griswold woman who plead guilty last November to a Class C felony charge of Vehicle Homicide by Operating While under the Influence (OWI) in connection with the 2010 death of 44-year old Katrina Christensen, was sentenced today (Monday) in Cass County District Court. Judge James C. Richardson announced his decision after he heard from witnesses who attested to 46-year old Christine Riedemann’s character, and written statements from Christensen’s daughters. Richardson sentenced Riedemann to 10-years in prison, but ordered the sentence suspended. He then placed her on probation for a period of 5-years, and ordered her to pay fines amounting to $1,000 plus surcharges.
Riedemann will be required to reside at the Women’s Correctional Facility in Council Bluffs for the duration of her probation. She’ll begin serving her term at the facility when space becomes available, which the court said will likely be in about 7-to 10-days. She must also meet several conditions while on probation, including: completing a substance abuse evaluation; submitting a DNA sample; making restitution Christensen’s estate in the amount of $150,000 and maintaining full employment or becoming a student in a vocational or academic institution. Her lawyer said Riedemann’s insurance has already paid out $100,000 to Christense’s family, as part of a settlement.
Riedemann was the driver of an SUV that went out of control on June 4th, 2010. The vehicle entered the ditch, and hit a utility pole west of Atlantic. Christensen, who was a passenger in the vehicle, died in the accident. Two separate blood-alcohol tests each indicated Riedemann was above the legal limit to drive. She was also found to have been in possession of marijuana.
Prior to pronouncing the sentence, the judge heard testimony from Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones, former Councilman Kern Miller, and realtor Dale Gross, who served as character witnesses. All three men asked for the lenient sentence, in observance of the fact Riedemann had no prior criminal history, and was extremely remorseful about the death of her friend. Riedemann herself said there was no greater punishment she could receive than living with the tragedy that took place on that June day in 2010. She said she was willing to accept the court’s decision in the matter.
The judge also heard written statements from Christensen’s two daughters. One of the statements read by the victims’ family Attorney Andrew J. Knuth, was from Ashley Wedemeyer. Wedemeyer said she hoped her mother would be proud of her accomplishments, but was saddened by the fact she’ll never be around to help her through the tough spots in life, nor will she be able to know her grandson, who was born about two-months ago. She said she knows what happened was not intentional, but she said “even accidents have consequences.”