High speed chase goes to jury
LISBON — Justin Lamp, accused of fleeing Detective Sgt. Steven Walker at a high rate of speed on back roads a year ago, appeared before a Common Pleas Court jury on Monday.
Lamp, 41, Foundry Hill Road, Summitville, is charged with failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, a third-degree felony.
Both Walker and Detective Sgt. Jeff Haugh took the stand on Monday, explaining about an investigation regarding some thefts in early January 2019. Haugh said Lamp had become a suspect in the case and detectives set out the morning of Jan. 7, 2019 to find him and to look for the vehicles and trailers, which were missing.
Walker, who had a few things to finish at the sheriff’s office, said he left last and when he turned onto Trinity Church Road, he saw a GMC Jimmy belonging to Lamp’s mother, which he had seen Lamp driving before. The vehicle was heading the opposite way and Walker said he turned around to find Lamp had backed into an oil well access road.
Walker said he pulled in, driver’s door to driver’s door and he looked directly at Lamp, who looked at him and took off at a high rate of speed. Walker said he knew Lamp’s license was suspended and he also saw the tail light and brake light were not working.
Although Walker was not wearing a regular deputy’s uniform and was driving an unmarked Escalade, it did have lights and sirens. He activated the sirens and lights, following the vehicle at speeds of up to 75 to 80 mph.
Walker said Lamp was throwing gravel, sliding on turns and failing to stop at stop signs. The path Lamp took them went along Laughlin Mill Road, Gavers Road, Foundry Hill Road, state Route 518 and back onto Foundry Hill Road. At one particularly hilly part of Foundry Hill Road, Walker said Lamp’s vehicle went nearly airborn.
The chase continued for about seven minutes and traveled 5.5 miles, before it appeared Lamp had transmission problems and stopped in his own mother’s driveway.
By the time Haugh and other detectives arrived, Walker had Lamp and his passenger, Sarah Crooms in custody. Some items found in the vehicle included razer blade knives and a prescription pill bottle filled only an hour before the chase with 10 buprenorphine for Crooms, but was empty. The drug is usually used as an aid to help people break an opioid addiction. Additionally, there was a syringe loaded with a liquid.
Haugh told jurors how dangerous high speed chases can be to those involved and other people in the area. The vehicles traveled through Dungannon and Walker said he hoped people would hear his siren and stay out of the roadway.
Defense attorney Jennifer Gorby made it a point to jurors that detectives wear suits and ties, drive unmarked vehicles in an attempt to “blend in.”
Walker also noted it makes it easier to do surveillance and to interview the neighbors without people knowing deputies are there.
The trial is expected to conclude today.