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Published: Tuesday, 11/8/2011

Court orders driver in fatal crash to be resentenced

But Rossford man’s convictions stand

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
O'Neill O'Neill
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BOWLING GREEN — A Rossford man who was convicted of driving drunk when he struck and killed a Perrysburg bicyclist on West River Road nearly six years ago is to be resentenced Dec. 16 in Wood County Common Pleas Court.

The 6th District Court of Appeals ruled Friday that David O’Neill, now 67, should not have been sentenced for drunk driving and two felonies, but instead the drunk-driving charge should have been merged with charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and aggravated vehicular assault.

“We find that it is possible to commit the offenses of aggravated vehicular homicide and aggravated vehicular assault while also committing a violation of operating a motor vehicle under the influence,” Judge Stephen Yarbrough wrote. “Therefore, O’Neill’s conviction for [operating under the influence] shall merge” with the other two counts.

O’Neill has been serving eight years in the Toledo Correctional Institution for convictions stemming from a Jan. 15, 2006, hit-skip crash that killed Dr. Stephen Snedden, 47, and seriously injured his friend and fellow cyclist George Haig, formerly of Perrysburg.

“The convictions remain intact. The [victim’s] family doesn’t have to go through that again,” Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said Monday. “The court of appeals essentially affirmed the vital points of the case. As far as we’re concerned, this is really a minor point.”

Still, it was the second time a portion of O’Neill’s sentence was overturned.

In 2008, the appeals court threw out O’Neill’s conviction for aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, and operating a motor vehicle under the influence, saying the results of a blood-alcohol test administered after the crash should have been suppressed. The appeals court did not overturn his conviction for failure to stop after an accident, so O’Neill remained in prison serving a four-year sentence on that count.

He was to have been retried on the three charges, but in April, 2010, O’Neill pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Wood County Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry sentenced him to four years in prison on each of the two felony counts and five months on the drunk-driving charge, all to be served concurrently. The judge then ordered that those charges were to be served consecutively to the four-year sentence for failure to stop after an accident. He also suspended O’Neill’s driver’s license for life.

Prosecutors said O’Neill was intoxicated when he left a restaurant he owned in Waterville, crossed the Maumee River, struck a stop sign at State Rt. 65, and then hit the cyclists on Route 65 just north of Five Point Road. He did not stop after the crash but continued driving for 4.5 miles until Perrysburg police stopped his vehicle at State Rts. 65 and 25.

O’Neill’s attorney, Kenneth Rexford of Lima, did not return calls for comment Monday.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.


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