FLORENCE — A woman who had avoided prison time in a manslaughter case involving a wreck that killed Dr. Robert Long will serve the remainder of her sentence in prison because she failed a drug test, authorities said.
Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Will Powell this week ordered Tiffany Nicole Balentine, 29, of Florence, to complete her sentence in prison.
Balentine was sentenced to 51 months in the community corrections program on May 30, 2018, as part of a plea agreement, Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly said. She pleaded to criminally negligent homicide.
Terms of the agreement required Balentine to pass drug and alcohol screenings, Connolly said. However, she failed a drug test in July when THC and amphetamines were discovered in her system.
"When we settled that case with her, it was with the clear understanding that it was zero tolerance for any drug or alcohol use," Connolly said.
Long, 86, of Florence, was killed Feb. 2, 2017, when his car was struck by the vehicle Balentine was driving.
She struck the vehicle after it pulled out from a convenience store on U.S. 72 attempting to turn west.
Balentine was indicted in August 2017 for manslaughter. According to the indictment, she was impaired, having several types of drugs in her system, including alprazolam, methadone and methamphetamine.
The plea was reached with the approval of Long's family.
"The family was very receptive to giving her a second chance," Connolly said. "But not a third chance. She had multiple substances in her system when the initial crash occurred."
Long's son, Todd Long, issued a statement to Powell at Monday's hearing.
"My family and I only agreed to the plea agreement with the understanding Ms. Balentine would follow the terms of the agreement to the letter of the law, which is not the case now," he said.
He went on to state he is "extremely disappointed and angered" that Balentine failed her drug test in violation of the agreement.
"It's clear that she has slipped back into her previous drug habits and will be a future danger to the public at large," he said. "My family and I were willing to give her a second chance to make the right choices, but she has failed. The choices she makes are not trivial. They are life and death, and I ask that the court treat them accordingly."
He later added, "The second chance was never an option for my father."