04/03/2008 11:00PM

Jury recommends six years for Norman


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The jury at Cole Norman's trial in Hot Springs, Ark., on Friday recommended he serve six years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections and pay a $5,000 fine, according to Joe Graham, a deputy prosecuting attorney for Garland County. On Thursday, Norman pled guilty to negligent homicide in the traffic accident death of an 86-year-old woman a year ago in Hot Springs, Ark.

"We were pleased with their recommendation," said Graham, noting penalties for negligent homicide, a Class C felony, range from 3 to 10 years of confinement and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Graham said a formal sentencing by Judge Homer Wright is scheduled for Wednesday at the Garland County Circuit Courthouse.

Norman was not taken into custody on Friday and remains free on bond. He could be eligible for parole in as little as a year if he receives the maximum amount of credit for good behavior, said Graham.

Graham presented the state's case to the jury Thursday after Norman pled guilty. Norman's attorney, Jamie Pratt, presented the defense's case on Friday.

Virginia Heath, 86, was hit head-on by Norman on the afternoon of Feb. 5, 2007, while he was negotiating a curve on state Hwy. 7, according to a police report on the accident. She died three hours later at a local hospital. Norman was found to have painkillers, for which he had prescriptions, in his blood. He had broken his neck in an all-terrain vehicle accident in December 2005.

Norman, 39, has not started a horse since Feb. 11, 2007. He is a six-time training champ at Oaklawn Park and a nine-time title winner at Louisiana Downs.