Driver in fatal crash sentenced

LISBON – Conner Sell, the young driver of the vehicle involved in a crash which killed Jesse E. Mitchell in 2012, received the 90-day jail sentence with work release allowed as part of his plea agreement.

However, first Sell got to hear from the family of Mitchell, who had some words of advice when the 20-year-old Alliance man appeared Tuesday in Columbiana County Municipal Court.

“I don’t hate you,” said Mitchell’s 19-year-old sister, Kimberly Mitchell. “I pray it makes you a better person.”

Additionally, she told him to be thankful he was able to walk away from that wreck and will spend time with his family and friends, instead of his family having to go through the pain of losing him. She urged him to make the most of every day.

She noted her brother taught her to be genuine and kind-hearted. He was someone who rolled with the punches and would want them all to go on living.

Mitchell’s mother, Kim Mitchell, spoke first, talking about the nauseating pain the family has felt since the day a highway patrol trooper gave them the news their son was in an accident and did not survive.

“Your poor-decision making has changed our lives forever,” Mitchell’s mother said, adding that their faith and their son’s faith in God was helping them.

She read from a report her son wrote at age 15, one where he stated the most important person in helping someone deal with grief is God, who places the people around them and gives them the strength.

For his part, Sell and his attorney, Jeffrey Jakmides, stood while the family members spoke about their loss. Sell told the family he was “tremendously sorry,” adding he wakes up every day wishing he could go back before the crash.

According to reports by the patrol at the time of the crash, Mitchell, a 19-year-old from Alliance, was driving a Chevrolet Cavalier east on Hartley Road on Feb. 17, 2012, when his car was struck by a Toyota Celica driven by Sell, who was southbound on Knox School Road.

Sell and his passenger, a 16-year-old Taylor R. Steed, were taken to Aultman Hospital in Canton with non-life threatening injuries.

Tuesday in court, Jakmides, Assistant County Prosecutor Don Humphrey Jr. and Judge Mark Frost all expressed their sympathy.

Humphrey pointed out there was nothing he was able to say to ease the pain of the Mitchell family or increase the remorse by Sell. He said he planned to ask for the agreed upon 90 days in jail with work release, and hoped on the 91st day Sell would begin living his life with a new purpose.

“Perhaps his life can become an example of redemption and remorse,” Humphrey said.

Frost echoed that sentiment, telling Sell he needs to remember what happened and stating Sell’s decision to plead guilty to vehicular manslaughter despite the possible civil implications of such a plea shows he was ready to “man up and accept full responsibility for his actions.”

Sell will begin his jail term on Aug. 1, once his current school semester concludes. He will only be released to go to work and must return every night to the jail.

Frost reminded him not to give into the temptations or threats he may receive from other inmates to bring cigarettes or worse into the jail to them. Any violation will revoke his work-release privileges.

Once he is released Sell will be on a three-year probation and for two years will only have driving privileges to go to and from his job, school, counseling and church. He has also been fined $750.