August 31 – 9am – Hamilton County Courthouse Room 495 – Judge Foley State v. Melinda Woodall Case No. B-1600608 –
This Wednesday at 9am Melinda Woodall will be sentenced for killing Michael Prater. She was convicted of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide – Possession of Drugs – Possession of Drug Tools –
YOU CAN PARTICIPATE NOW – Get your letter written – Tell the COURT WHAT YOU THINK about sentencing. Get it down NOW – get it to the Judge – Sentencing is Wednesday – once it is over it is too late for you to help.
Judge J. Patrick Foley III
Hamilton County Common Pleas Court
1000 Main Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
RE: State v. MELINDA WOODALL, Case No. B16-00608
The hearing will be at 9am. The Judge WILL READ your letters if you get them filed quickly. You can also SUPPORT THE PRATER FAMILY and ATTEND THIS HEARING.
Yes, yes – going downtown for a hearing at the stinking courthouse at 9am on a Wednesday is pain. Yes, you have to get there early and go through the metal detectors [unless you have a lawyer’s “Get Into Jail Free” card – But this is it – your time to support Michael – support Ellen – support their little baby and their boy – You can attend the hearing – you can SPEAK at the hearing and let the judge know what you think an appropriate SENTENCE ought to be for Melinda Woodall –
Here’s what Ms. Woodall’s lawyer wants – he has argued that a FOUR YEAR sentence would be appropriate for Ms. Woodall. If you think that’s OK, that’s fine. If you think that is ridiculous then you should take the time to tell the court this.
Courts look at many factors in sentencing criminals who kill people when they are strung out on drugs. Ms. Woodall’s lawyer has attached several letters from friends talking about what a nice person she is, or could be – how she has struggled for years with addiction issues. How her former bf/hubbie was severely injured in his own heroin-related traffic crash and how she “increased her drug intake to deal with emotional pain.” He argues that she is “showing remorse” and “crying everyday” – surprise surprise –
Here, though, we are dealing with more than “increased drug intake” – Ms. Woodall smashed into Michael Prater and left him to die – Michael was riding well over on the BERM & using a rear flashing light – a light that was still blinking when police found it after the crash.
Woodall fled the scene – she was strung out – she was also carrying drugs, paraphernalia when she was found. She immediately came clean and asked about Mr. Prater…errrr… no… she immediately made up several stories about other people who were in the car with her – people who she said gave her money for a ride to the race track – police had to check out that story of course – checking surveillance footage to confirm that there was no drop-off… checking the car, matching up DNA in the windshield to Michael’s DNA – seeing glass embedded in all the car’s seats….except the driver’s seat – She tested positive for opiates – fentanyl – Subutex
Several months later Woodall pleads “No Contest” to several charges – Judge Foley set her sentencing for August 31.
Ellen Prater has returned to the west coast with her babies to be with her family. I think the family is afraid no one will be there to speak for Michael – to speak for the family – to speak for the cycling community – They have sent their thoughts to the court but there is nothing quite like a large showing of support by the community…
So, if you can make it downtown WEDNESDAY at 9am to Support Michael and Ellen and their babies, I KNOW their families would be highly appreciative of your effort – further you may very well play an important role in swaying a Judge to give an APPROPRIATE SENTENCE in this case.
The defendant wants 4 years. The prosecution offered 10 years and she refused – so it’s up to the court.
A couple recent cases
On May 23, 2011 Kelly Cox was driving drunk in the Cleveland area when she mowed down and killed Judge Chip Henry. Cox had her daughter in the car. She said “I think I hit something” – her daughter said “I think you hit someONE”- she drove home, but later returned. She blew an amazing 0.28% BAC – after fighting like all git out to keep those BAC results out of court she eventually plead guilty – her lawyer argued for a short sentence – she was a mom, etc etc
The judge was not impressed – Kelly Cox got 9.5 years in prison. I wrote about the case a while back –
“The judge then spoke to Ms. Cox. He did not mince words. He noted that it was her drinking and driving that brought her to the court – despite the fact that her husband was with her and could have driven her home and despite the fact that she had a cell phone and could have called a cab, or a friend. The court said, “…like most people who drink, it is all about you. You drink because you wallow in self-pity and thus do not take responsibility for your actions…you look at this death as a horrible accident in which the role you played is minimal. You feel you are a victim of circumstance…Your explanations minimize your responsibility for the death.” After reading the pre sentence report the judge told Ms. Cox he had “…concluded that you have no real remorse for your actions, only excuses…”
The judge spoke for over 10 pages on the record…
In another recent case, Todd Shaw, described as a “serial drunk driver” killed local teacher Fred Carey in February 2014. He took off and left Fred to die on the side of the road. Shaw had been videotaped buying some beer “to go” after drinking at a local tavern prior to the crash. Cops found him – this was his eighth alcohol related arrest –
Judge McBride in Clermont County gave Todd Shaw 9.5 years.
Do YOUR words impact these decisions? Absolutely.
If you need some ammunition, here’s a piece I wrote on What type of sentences do hit/run killers get?
In 2006 Anthony Gerike killed two CCC members – Gerike drove on the wrong side of the road – smashed into a group ride – could have killed 10 people – the judge quoted from many of the 100 or so letters he received from the cycling community – and then sentenced Gerike to 16 years –
Four Years? 10 years? What’s a fair sentence for a drug addict who kills a young man in the prime of his life – leaving his widow grief stricken and his two babies without their daddy? You can tell the court what you think…