JEFFERSONVILLE — A Henryville woman serving a 15-year sentence for the OWI deaths of her two young children in 2017 is seeking a reduced sentence. Ericka J. Fouch, 31, based the request on her recent completion of an extensive recovery program for inmates.
Fouch was sentenced to 18 years with three suspended last year in Clark County after pleading guilty to two level 4 felonies in the deaths of her children Adalynn, 5, and Wyatt, 4. The mother was driving with her children in the car when the vehicle collided with a train at County Road 160 and Railroad Street in Henryville on June 28, 2017.
Toxicology reports later showed Fouch had methamphetamine and THC in her system at the time of the crash. She originally faced seven charges, but five were dropped per the plea agreement.
Also included in that agreement was a recommendation that Fouch participate in a purposeful incarceration program while at the Indiana Department of Corrections. This year, she successfully completed Recovery While Incarcerated — a five-phase program in which Fouch said she learned self-esteem, boundaries, dealing with guilt and loss, and sorting through past issues that may have exacerbated her substance abuse.
"It helped me recognize the importance of change...and how that plays into recovery for the rest of my life," she told Circuit Court No. 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael at a sentence modification hearing on Monday. "...I feel very hopeful; I'm very glad I got to complete this program."
Fouch has also taken other classes related to substance abuse, has led group work in addiction and has become certified as a peer recovery coach.
"My goal is to become an advocate," she said. "I want to help others realize their [possibility] for change."
Fouch previously appealed her sentence at the state level, a request that was denied. In October, defense attorney Niles Driskell filed a motion in the trial case that based on Fouch's marked improvement through the DOC program, that her sentence be modified and the remainder be served in community correction, such as home incarceration, or other similar supervision.
"The facts and circumstances of this case are heartbreaking," Driskell said in court Monday. He added that the defendant was a "very different person" than she was two years ago.
"She's grown, she's participated in rehabilitation," he told the judge. "I hope you can see that and I hope that it matters."
The state has objected through its own motion and during the hearing, Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Gray reminded the judge that this request comes less than two years after the court thought the sentence was a fair and just one.
"She got 18 years because two children died a horrific death," Gray said. "There is a penalty, a price, accountability in this society...it's not justice and it's not fair if [the sentence] were to be modified."
Carmichael said she was glad to see that Fouch has taken advantage of the programs available for recovery, and that she will take the matter under advisement, pending a final report from community correction. Her decision is expected within the next few weeks.
"But I would caution you that it's rather early in your sentence for a modification," Carmichael told Fouch.