Mother jailed 10 years in DUI accident in 2007

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 20, 2009

A sentence that left two families in tears was handed down Wednesday in Warren County Circuit Court.

Leah Van Norman, 29, 8214 Fisher Ferry Road, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated driving under the influence and causing bodily injury to former Vicksburg police Lt. Todd Mc-Broom in an early-morning wreck two years ago.

Members of Van Norman’s family and Mc-Broom’s wife wept as the punishment was imposed by Holmes County Circuit Judge Jannie Lewis, presiding after both Warren County Circuit Judges Isadore Patrick and M. James Chaney recused themselves.

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“This is one of those very difficult cases in which both families have suffered tremendously,” said District Attorney Ricky Smith. “Unfortunately, one person chose to drink and drive.”

The wreck occurred June 24, 2007, around 4:30 a.m. McBroom, a security guard at the Engineer Research and Development Center, had left the main compound and was driving north on Halls Ferry Road to check other areas of the facility, Smith said. Van Norman was southbound, and her car crossed the center line and collided head-on with Mc-Broom’s vehicle.

Blood tests showed her blood alcohol level was .18, more than twice the legal limit of .08, Smith said.

Both Van Norman and Mc-Broom were seriously injured, and both have undergone multiple surgeries. Neither has been able to return to work.

In a tearful statement before the sentencing, Van Norman told the court, “I am so very sorry. I know that doesn’t make up for (what happened).” She asked Lewis to take into consideration her children. “I have two babies — a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, and they have both been through so much,” Van Norman said.

Lewis acknowledged Van Norman’s remorse, but said Van Norman had to accept the consequences of her actions.

McBroom’s wife said he was not present at the sentencing because he has been sick. “It’s a no-win situation,” said Dianne McBroom, wiping away tears. “Nobody wins.”

Van Norman faced a possible 25-year prison sentence, Smith said. Lewis did not impose any fines.

On July 28, a Vicksburg man who admitted injuring a young woman motorcyclist in a drunken-driving wreck on Nailor Road in February was sentenced to serve five years in prison. Steven L. White, 46, 112 Tower Drive, was also fined and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution to his victim, 19-year-old Heather Smith.


Contact Pamela Hitchins at