A Michigan City man who pleaded guilty to driving drunk when he rear ended
Beverly Shores cardiologist Morton Arnsdorf last year—killing the physician
in a fiery crash on U.S. Highway 20—was sentenced on Monday to a maximum
sentence of 12 years in prison.
Timothy Hefner, 18—who was 17 at the time of the crash and subsequently
waived into adult court—was given the maximum sentence on each of the three
counts to which he’d pleaded guilty.
Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford, citing aggravating
circumstances, sentenced Hefner to eight years for operating while
intoxicated-causing death, a Class C felony punishable by a term of two to
eight years; to three years for driving while intoxicated-causing serious
bodily injury, a Class D felony punishable by a term of six months to three
years; and to one year for criminal recklessness with a vehicle, a Class A
misdemeanor punishable by a term of up to a year.
“The court finds as aggravating circumstances the defendant’s history of
delinquent behavior,” Bradford stated in his sentencing order; the fact that
the victim, Arnsdorf, was at least 65; and the fact that Hefner was arrested
on a new charge of OWI while on pre-trial release.
“The court finds as a mitigating circumstance the fact that the defendant
has accepted responsibility by pleading guilty,” Bradford added. “The court
does not find the defendant’s young age as a mitigating circumstance because
had Count I”—the Class C felony—“been committed by a person 21 years of age
or older, it would have been a Class B felony. Because of the defendant’s
age, it is only a C felony.”
“Because the aggravating circumstances so far outweigh the mitigating, the
court orders all three sentences to run consecutive with each other for a
total sentence of 12 years in the Indiana Department of Correction,”
Bradford ordered. “None of that sentence is suspended.”
Bradford also ordered Hefner to pay restitution of $12,000 and recommended
that his driving privileges be suspended for five years after his release
According to the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, at 5:32 p.m. June 2, 2010,
Hefner was eastbound on U.S. Highway 20 at a high rate of speed when he rear
ended Arnsdorf as Arnsdorf was slowing his 2007 Saab to turn left onto
northbound C.R. 300E. The impact drove Arnsdorf’s Saab across the center
lane and into the westbound lanes of U.S. 20, police said, where he was
struck by an oncoming 2003 Mercury driven by John Merrell, 62, of Portage.
The Saab, with Arnsdorf in it, became engulfed in flames and Arnsdorf was
pronounced dead at the scene. The Coroner’s Office later said that the
collision probably rendered Arnsdorf immediately unconscious.
Hefner himself was airlifted to South Bend hospital with unspecified
In August 2010, Juvenile Court Magistrate Edward Nemeth ordered Hefner
waived into adult court, citing Hefner’s “repetitive and escalating pattern
of offenses,” with “nine separate referrals with 10 different offenses, with
his first referral shortly before his 10th birthday.”
On March 19, 2011, Hefner was arrested by Michigan City Police on a charge
of OWI with an alleged blood alcohol content of .13 percent.
According to the University of Chicago Medical Center’s website, Arnsdorf
was a “nationally known cardiologist” who served as chief of the UC Section
of Cardiology for nine years, a master of the American College of
Cardiology—an honor bestowed on fewer than 50 cardiologists in the
nation—and an “accomplished researcher” whose interests included
arrhythmias, hypertension, and atherosclerosis.