Judge denies request by man sentenced for beating, robbing WW II vet neighbor

LISBON – Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Washam this week denied a request by Joseph Eltringham to be resentenced following a change in Ohio’s sentencing laws.

Eltringham, who had a lengthy military service himself, was sentenced in November to eight years in prison for beating and robbing his neighbor, an elderly World War II veteran.

According to a motion filed by Eltringham’s attorney, Richard Hura, an Ohio House Bill 197, which was signed on Dec. 20, 2012, requires Washam to take into consideration Eltringham’s 20 years of military service and the emotional effects that service had on him during sentencing.

A section of the new law, Hura underlined in his attachment of the motion reads, “The sentencing court shall consider the offender’s military service record and whether the offender has an emotional, mental or physical condition that is traceable to the offender’s service in the armed forces of the United States and that was a contributing factor in the offender’s commission of the offense or offenses.”

In his response, Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Weikart had noted Washam did take Eltringham’s military service into consideration during sentencing. Several people testified and a “60 Minutes” clip about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was played prior to sentencing in a hearing which took about two hours. Those testifying on Eltringham’s behalf had brought up his service record and the possibility he was suffering the consequences of PTSD.

Weikart also noted the new House Bill 197 does not go into effect until March 22, 2013. Additionally, it is not retroactive.

Washam agreed with Weikart and additionally noted in his written opinion the Ohio Supreme Court has noted a trial court is generally not allowed to modify a criminal sentence simply by reconsidering it after the final judgment is issued.

Eltringham, 45, Rochester Road, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, felonious assault and intimidation on Aug. 24, about a year after he went to the home of his neighbor and friend, World War II veteran Robert Kastelic, where Eltringham beat and robbed him over an extended time period.