Man responsible for accident during chase to spend time 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.