04/08/2008 11:00PM

Norman gets six-year term


An Arkansas judge sentenced trainer Cole Norman on Wednesday to six years in state prison and fined him $5,000 for his role in the traffic-accident death of an 86-year-old woman more than a year ago outside of Hot Springs, Ark. The sentence is the same as the one recommended last Friday by the jury who heard testimony in the case.

Norman pled guilty to negligent homicide during his trial last Thursday and Friday. Negligent homicide is a Class C felony, carrying penalties of three to 10 years confinement and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Norman, 39, was taken into custody Wednesday after being sentenced by Judge Homer Wright at the Garland County Circuit Courthouse in Hot Springs. There are no plans to appeal, according to Norman's attorney, Jamie Pratt.

Norman could be eligible for parole in as soon as a year if he receives the maximum amount of credit for good behavior, according to attorneys who tried the case. Norman was accompanied to court Wednesday by his wife, Tamara, and several longtime owners he had trained horses for at Oaklawn Park, Lone Star Park, and Louisiana Downs.

Virginia Heath was hit head-on by Norman on the afternoon of Feb. 5, 2007, while he was negotiating a curve on State Highway 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 broke his neck in an all-terrain vehicle accident in December 2005.

Norman 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.