Party hosting adults sentenced in helium death of teen girl

Party hosting adults sentenced in helium death of teen girl
Katherine McAloon, 28, pleads no contest during a hearing on Tuesday, March 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Medford Mail Tribune, Julia Moore)
MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) - A man and woman who threw a party for teens featuring booze and pot will spend time behind bars for their roles in the death of a 14-year-old Oregon girl who died after inhaling helium.

The two adults dropped their not guilty pleas in Jackson County Circuit Court in Medford on criminal charges stemming from the February 2012 death of 14-year-old Ashley Long of Eagle Point. Prosecutors said they delayed medical attention for the girl, who collapsed from an embolism in the brain that ultimately killed her.

The Mail Tribune reported that Katherine McAloon, 28, was sentenced to 28 months in prison and $300 restitution after pleading no contest to criminal mistreatment and guilty to delivering marijuana and alcohol to minors. Richard Mowery, 33, was sentenced to 90 days in jail and $10,000 restitution after pleading no contest to criminally negligent homicide.

Prosecutors said the pair were not malicious but showed poor judgment.

Authorities said Ashley went with friends to a birthday party at McAloon's apartment in Medford, where she inhaled from a tank of helium to make her voice sound funny. She collapsed after an air bubble entered her blood stream and blocked the flow of blood to her brain. Prosecutors said McAloon and Mowery delayed medical attention

Ashley's family and friends filled the courtroom as her mother read a written statement, saying her life had been changed forever.

"This is all I have left," she said, holding up a small lock of her daughter's hair in a small plastic bag.

Stepfather Justin Earp described Ashley as a bright, compassionate girl who had a 3.5 grade point average, wanted to be a marine biologist and was loyal to her friends.

"She was the type of girl that would befriend the kid in school that no one else would," Earp said.

"Ashley, we all miss you forever, Ashley," Earp read from a letter from one of Ashley's sisters. "I wish I could give you a hug."