Leetonia man may be on the run again

LISBON – A Leetonia area man scheduled for sentencing in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court for running into a woman’s car while running from the highway patrol last year may be on the run again.

Thomas L. Peterson, 49, St. Jacob-Logtown Road, failed to appear for his sentencing hearing on Thursday morning, prompting Judge Scott Washam to order a bench warrant for his arrest. Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart requested Washam set no bond for Peterson.

Peterson 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.

Additionally, Peterson 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.

This was not the first time Peterson had been charged in relation to attempts to flee law enforcement. He has two previous convictions for failure to comply with a police officer in Mahoning County in 2004 and 2005.

Peterson also pleaded guilty in Mahoning County in January to charges of possession of cocaine, possession of heroin and possession of drugs. He was sentenced to six months in prison by Mahoning County Judge Lou D’Apolito, but the prison time was to run concurrently with Peterson’s time in this case in Columbiana County.

Washam said he did not believe Peterson was supposed to report for prison in Mahoning County until after his Columbiana County sentencing.

Mitchell and one of her family members were in Washam’s courtroom Thursday awaiting the outcome of the case.

“They have been at all or nearly all of the hearings,” Weikart told Washam. “I feel bad they continue to be jerked around while Mr. Peterson continues to play games.”