06/10/2007 11:00PM

Norman enters not-guilty plea


Trainer Cole Norman pleaded not guilty at his Monday arraignment for manslaughter in Hot Springs, Ark. The charges stem from a Feb. 5 automobile accident that resulted in the death of an 86-year-old woman. A trial date was expected to be set on Tuesday, said Bev Cowart, deputy circuit clerk with the Garland County Circuit Court in Hot Springs.

Manslaughter is a Class C felony charge under Arkansas law, according to Terri Harris, chief deputy for Garland County. Harris said it carries a punishment range of no fewer than three and no more than 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections and/or a fine of $10,000.

According to the police accident report, the crash occurred when Norman, 38, was negotiating a curve in his Cadillac Escalade and crossed over the center line of Highway 7 South in Hot Springs, hitting a Ford Explorer driven by 86-year-old Virginia Heath head-on. She died three hours later at a local hospital.

Norman was found to have prescription painkillers in his blood. He held valid prescriptions for the medication, according to Harris. Norman suffered a broken neck in an all-terrain-vehicle accident in December 2005.

For years Norman has operated one of the largest and most successful stables in Arkansas and Louisiana. A week after the recent accident, he turned over operation of his stable to his longtime assistant, Jorge Lara.