Family asks for harsher penalty for man who ran red light, killed mother

The driver was charged with a misdemeanor but the woman's family is asking why it's not a felony charge.

Jody Kieran has spent the better part of a year researching and documenting a day she wishes never happened.

On Nov. 12, 2016, her daughter Pamela Hesselbacher was walking home from the park with her two kids.

“She texted her husband letting him know they were on their way home and she loved him,” said Kieran.

Less than 15 minutes after sending that text, Hesselbacher was hit and killed by a man accused of running a red light.

“This guy needs to be taken off the road, no doubt about it,” said Kieran.

Hesselbacher’s two kids, Ryan, 3, and Audrey, 1, were seriously injured but both survived. Audrey was in a coma for a while and doctors aren’t sure what kind of damage her brain sustained.

The man who killed Hesselbacher is William Epperlein. He told police he was driving home from work and thought the light was green.

“All of a sudden, she was there,” said Epperlein.

Chandler police interviewed Epperlein not long after the accident. He told police he never saw Hesselbacher before hitting her. Police arrested Epperlein and recommended felony charges but the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has declined to file charges.

“She got in the way of him running a red light, that’s the way we are being treated,” said Kieran.

On Thursday afternoon, Kieran took that binder of information including police and autopsy photos to the Attorney General’s Office in hopes the case could be looked at more closely.

“This is my last chance to do right by my daughter,” said Kieran.

The family wants Epperlein charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor. They hope the attorney general will provide some clarification as to why Epperlein has not been charged with a felony.

The statute of limitations to charge someone with a misdemeanor is one year, while a felony charge can be up to two years. The family says the city is willing to charge Epperlein with a misdemeanor but the family would like the attorney general to weigh in before that.

12 News did speak to a representative in the county attorney’s office who sent us this statement:

“There was insufficient evidence to support the felony charges and the matter was sent to the city for possible misdemeanor charges.”

We were unable to reach anyone from the City of Chandler or the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

At this point, it does not appear that Epperlein has been charged with any crime connected to the incident.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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