Leetonia man who fled highway patrol, crashed gets 4 years in prison

LISBON – The Leetonia man who fled from the highway patrol and crashed into another vehicle, injuring a woman, will spend more than the next four years in prison.

Thomas Peterson, 49, St. Jacobs-Logtown Road, pleaded guilty in December to aggravated vehicular assault for his part in a car accident which injured Lynn Mitchell on April 13, 2013 at the intersection of state Routes 7 and 14 in Columbiana. At the time, Peterson was reportedly fleeing from state troopers and ran the red light at the intersection, crashing into Mitchell’s vehicle.

Peterson who was sentenced Thursday Judge Scott Washam in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court, also had his license suspended for 99 years.

Additionally, Peterson had pleaded guilty to possession of drugs (cocaine), tampering with evidence and failure to comply with a police order. Some of the accusations were due to Peterson attempting to hide a crack cocaine pipe after the crash.

He had initially been scheduled for sentencing in February, but failed to appear, which prompted the sheriff’s department and local U.S. Marshals to offer a reward. Peterson was later located in a hotel on U.S. Route 62 west if Salem and held in custody until his sentencing on Thursday.

Although she declined to comment at the hearing, Mitchell attended along with her daughter. Both were reportedly in the vehicle nearly a year ago when Peterson struck them. Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart described some of Mitchell’s injuries, including severe concussions, glass removed from her head, a back injury and a broken hand.

He also told Judge Washam about some of Peterson’s criminal history, which includes not only breaking and enterings, OVI and drug-related crimes but also previous fleeing and eluding and assault of police officer convictions.

Although Peterson has done a number of things wrong, his attorney, Peter Horvath, suggested Peterson was doing the right thing by owning up to these charges without a trial.

“I just want to apologize,” Peterson said, adding, “I have a drug habit and I admit to that.”

Weikart asked Washam for a total of 54 months in prison for the four charges, requesting the judge consider making the time served consecutive to the six months Peterson owes in Mahoning County for a drug-related conviction for possession of heroin and cocaine.

“It appears the only time the defendant isn’t in trouble is when he is incarcerated,” Weikart said.

Washam gave Peterson a 53-month sentence and ran it concurrent with the six months in prison.

About an hour later, Sheldon Robinson, another man convicted of similar crimes, two counts of failure to comply, received a 12-month sentence from Washam.

Prior to sentencing, Robinson, 39, Crestview Road, Columbiana, apologized for the people he put in harms way. His attorney, Douglas King, suggested Robinson has a heroin addiction, which he has problems dealing with and asked Washam for a chance to go to the Eastern Ohio Correctional Center for drug treatment.

Assistant County Prosecutor John Gamble had made a recommendation of 12 months, which Washam noted surprised him with Robinson’s criminal history. Washam said he thought it would be more, but agreed to the 12-month sentence, giving Robinson credit for 143 days already served.

Robinson had first fled from sheriff’s Deputy Richard Kimble, who saw him at about 11 a.m. May 11 in Wayne Township. Robinson reportedly failed to stop in the area of Trinity Church Road and state Route 518 and fled Kimble at speeds of more than 100 mph on secondary roads. Court documents state that at one point during the pursuit Robinson nearly struck the cruiser of Deputy Trisha Quinn, who had joined in the pursuit.

At 11:40 a.m. in East Liverpool, Robinson fled from an East Liverpool police officer, Steve Adkins, who saw Robinson getting off state Route 11. He fled on West Eighth Street through town and into St. Clair Township reaching speeds of 105 mph before coming to a blockade created by police involving several police cruisers and semi trucks.

At that point, he jumped out and began to run on foot, finally being apprehended when tased by St. Clair officer Scott Mick. His truck drifted backward and struck Adkins’ police cruiser.