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Family not happy about plea deal for man who killed their daughter

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Nearly three years after he was charged with killing a Brunswick County woman in a car crash, a Pender County man reached a deal with prosecutors.

Kim and Ray Heath are still trying to heal after the death of their 23-year-old daughter Stephanie. Today's plea deal did not help.

On May 27, 2010, investigators say Richard Constantineau crossed the center line on NC 211 near Supply and drove head-on into Stephanie Heath's Ford. She died minutes later.

"Stephanie was about the most kind and generous and giving person I have ever met," her mom Kim Heath said. "She had such a love of life that was hard to explain."

Constantineau appeared in Brunswick County Court Monday to finally end the case against him. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor death by vehicle. He pleaded not guilty to felony death by vehicle. That's what upsets the Heaths the most.

"I think I could have come to a forgiveness easier and sooner had Mr. Constantineau admitted he was impaired," Stephanie's father Ray said. "Of course he did not."

Highway Patrol responded to the accident, but troopers did not draw blood from Constantineau, and there was no written evidence from notes or from witness statements that Constantineau was impaired.

The hospital did draw blood from Constantineau after the accident. Results revealed he had methadone in his system.

The Heath family feels like key evidence went missing.

Highway Patrol says the laws were different in 2010. Now the law allows blood to be taken routinely if a person is charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle.

"Many laws have changed to assure families in the future that no evidence will slip through the cracks as it did in our case," Kim Heath said.

A judge sentenced Constantineau to 75 days behind bars.

Constantineau is not a stranger to car accidents. The Heaths say prosecutors told them he has been involved in 14 wrecks in the past 10 years.

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