Andy Gast was killed on August 28, 2012 while taking an early morning bike ride. Andy was riding near Lunken Airport when he was run down by Melvin White. It was a dark, foggy morning. Andy had front and rear lights. Melvin White was not, it seems, drunk or texting but just on his way to work. White was charged with two counts of Vehicular Homicide in Hamilton County Municipal Court Case No. 12CRB33907.
White plead Not Guilty and Judge Mallory was assigned the case. White’s attorneys filed a Motion to exclude some evidence – the “black box” from the car. The case was set for Trial on June 10, 2013. However, it appears from the docket that on June 10, with no fanfare, Melvin White plead No Contest to one count of Vehicular Homicide, and had one count dismissed. He was found Guilty of negligently causing the death of Andy Gast and the case is now set for sentencing on July 22, 2013, at 9am in Room 154 of the Hamilton County Justice Center.
Vehicular Homicide is a first degree misdemeanor under O.R.C 2903.06 – a long, complex statute that defines all levels of “vehicular homicide” and “vehicular manslaughter.” The maximum penalty for Mr. White is six months in jail and a $1000 fine. The Judge will decide whether Mr. WHite does ANY jail time at the sentencing hearing.
Why is killing someone only a misdemeanor? Good question.
Ohio is one of the states which even has a law governing “negligent” vehicular homicide. Indiana, for example, abides by the mantra “We Don’t Prosecute Negligence.” So motorists who drive carelessly and kill do not face any criminal punishments – only “traffic” fines or a license suspension.
The punishment for vehicular crimes in Ohio is based on how bad the behavior was. If someone intentionally tried to run over someone and kill them, that would be murder. If the “underlying offense” to a vehicular homicide was, say DUI, then the aggravated charge would be forthcoming, and a felony conviction would be possible. When someone is “reckless” then that is deemed to be “worse” than someone being “negligent” and a higher level crime is ensues. Here, Mr. White was charged with negligent vehicular homicide after it was determined that he was not “impaired” and was not texting, etc.
While I am still waiting for confirmation, I have been informed that the “black box” data from Mr. White’s car was analyzed and that the prosecution was going to present evidence that Mr. White was traveling over 50mph at impact. If true, this would certainly put Mr. White well over the posted speed of 40mph.
YOU should put JULY 22, 2013 on your calendar and plan to attend the sentencing. It will be held at 9:00 am in Room 154 of theHamilton County Justice Center, Judge Mallory’s courtroom. The Justice Center is at Court and Main St. in downtown Cincinnati. Allow time to make it through the metal detectors.
You can show up and support the Gast Family as they make one more trek to Cincinnati from their homes in the Cleveland area to talk about their son, Andy.