Judge accepts plea deal in 2018 Lake County crash that killed 4 moms

Heather Finley was sentenced to 4 years in prison on Thursday

A woman accused of being responsible for a deadly Lake County crash that killed four women in 2018 had her plea deal accepted by a judge Thursday.

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – The families of four young mothers who were killed in crash said they are disappointed after learning the woman they blame for causing the wreck will only spend four years behind bars.

Heather Finley was sentenced in Lake County Thursday, nearly four years to the day after she was arrested in 2018. Finley’s sentence includes four years in prison, followed by six years of probation.

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She will also have to pay $200,000 in restitution, terms outlined as part of a plea agreement reached by prosecutors and Finley’s defense team.

Loved ones of the victims expressed their anger during the hearing.

“This is not about money, about justice. When you say justice, her going to prison is not going to do any good,” said Natalya Davis, whose cousin, Rosalyn Felton, was killed in the crash. “Give us our family back then. You can’t make that happen.”

The four women killed in the crash were all under the age of 30. They each leave behind children, ranging in age from babies to 12, according to one family member who addressed the court.

The crash happened in April 2018 near State Road 50 and South Talbott Avenue in Mascotte.

An arrest affidavit for Finley states she was going 59 mph in a 35 mph zone at the time of impact. Three of the women were killed instantly, according to prosecutors. The fourth died at the hospital.

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Court records show Finley was initially charged with four counts of DUI/manslaughter and four counts of vehicular homicide. The manslaughter charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.

During Thursday’s hearing, Judge Larry Metz decided to accept the plea agreement, saying it was the only way he could guarantee Finley would spend time behind bars.

Finley fought back tears while apologizing to the victims’ families shortly after the judge announced his decision.

“I know me saying sorry doesn’t mean anything, and won’t bring back those girls, but there is not a day (that) goes by that I don’t think about them or their families,” Finley said.

Markers at the site of the crash stand in memory of the four women who were killed: Tierra Janee Chambers, Rosalyn Rondrette Felton, Kambrea Renee Smith, and Shakeila Denae Smith.

Their loved ones said they each had hopes and dreams. Chambers was set to graduate college a month after the crash and had just got engaged.

“It’s been four long, excruciating years. I miss her so much,” said her mother, Jamie Thomas. “Her baby boy’s 2nd birthday (was) 20 days after she was killed. Imagine trying to plan a funeral and a birthday party for her son at the same time?”

About the Author:

Catherine, born and raised in Central Florida, joined News 6 in April 2022.