Man pleads guilty in fatal Hartley Road crash

LISBON – A young man pleaded guilty Tuesday to vehicular manslaughter for his part in a two-vehicle crash in February 2012, which caused the death of Jesse E. Mitchell.

Four members of Mitchell’s family were in the Columbiana County Municipal Court courtroom of Judge Mark Frost as Conner R. Sell, 20, formerly of Damascus, but now listing his address as Mill Circle, Alliance, agreed to take a guilty plea to the reduced charge, a second-degree misdemeanor. Originally, Sell had been charged with vehicular homicide, a first-degree misdemeanor.

“I’m very deeply sorry,” Sell said, “and I just wished it had gone another way.”

The family members of Mitchell declined an opportunity to speak on Tuesday, but will be given another opportunity at a final sentencing hearing set for July 9.

Assistant County Prosecutor Don Humphrey Jr. said he will ask for a 90-day jail sentence, a $750 fine and two-year license suspension. He would allow for Sell to have work release from jail, but also require counseling, limited driving privileges and random drug screenings. Sell is reportedly already attending counseling, including substance abuse counseling, according to his defense attorney Jeffrey Jakmides.

Humphrey said he had a chance last Friday to meet with Mitchell’s family to explain the new charge and the procedures.

Although there is a civil court case reportedly planned, Sell agreed to plead guilty to the charge. Frost thanked him for being willing to take responsibility for his actions.

Frost also offered his sympathies to the family and along with Humphrey thanked highway patrol trooper Todd Jester, who was in the courtroom, for his work on the case. Frost noted there have been too many traffic fatality cases in his courtroom recently.

According to reports by the patrol at the time of the crash, Mitchell, who hailed 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.