A jury found a Bloomville man guilty Thursday of one count of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count of aggravated vehicular assault in connection to a September 2012 accident that killed 19-year-old Joshua Collins and injured an 11-year-old passenger in Collins' vehicle.
After more than four hours of deliberation Thursday, a jury found Bryan P. Waldock, 26, guilty of the third- and fourth-degree felonies and also acquitted him of one count of aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony, and one count of aggravated vehicular assault, a third-degree felony.
"I'm somewhat surprised that the jury didn't convict him on counts one and three," Seneca County Prosecutor Derek DeVine said following Thursday the verdict.
PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE
Attorney Dean Henry (left) speaks to Bryan Waldock after the verdict was
announced in Common Pleas Court Judge Steve Shuff’s courtroom Thursday.
Prosecution had alleged this week that Waldock drove recklessly and impaired when the crash occurred at the intersection of US 224 and CR 23 around 1:15 a.m. Sept. 29, 2012. By its acquittal of the two charges, the jury found Waldock was only guilty of driving recklessly, causing the death of Collins and the serious injuries of Republic resident David Tripp.
"He was intoxicated and going way too fast. That's the state's case in one sentence," DeVine told jurors in his closing argument Thursday morning.
Witnesses testified this week Waldock had a blood-alcohol concentration between 0.149 and 0.187 percent and was driving between 73 mph and 80 mph when his Chevrolet Silverado crested a hill about 400 feet from the intersection and struck the driver's side of Collins' Chevrolet S10. The speed limit on the US 224 is 55 miles per hour and the posted suggested speed limit at the intersection is 35 miles per hour because of the nearby hill.
"The defendant, after he had traveled past that sign, was still traveling 81 miles per hour. We respectively suggest that that's reckless," DeVine said.
Dean Henry, Waldock's attorney, told jurors during his closing argument Thursday that the prosecution did not present evidence throughout the week as to the cause of the crash. Rather, they presented assumptions.
"The driver of the S10 did everything correctly, that was an assumption," Henry said. "The second assumption was Bryan Waldock did everything incorrectly. There has been no consideration by the state of Ohio that maybe perhaps that S10 pulled out when it shouldn't have."
Henry said one good thing about the verdict was that the jury was able to discern between the reckless and OVI components of the case. He also said that when any case involves a death, the jury is affected differently.
"When you have a death in any case, it changes the dynamic," Henry said.
Julie Leggett, executive director of the Northeastern Affiliate Office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, spoke on behalf of the Tripp and Collins family Thursday.
"They are glad that this part of the process is over and he was found guilty of the charges he was charged with," Leggett said.
Leggett, who often serves as a victim advocate for families affected by drug and drunk driving, said the four-day trial has been an emotional process for the families.
A pre-sentence investigation was ordered Thursday by Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Steve Shuff. Waldock could face up to six and-a-half years in prison, but a prison term is not mandatory.