A Lucas County judge was wrong to take away “good-time credit” earned by a Toledo man serving an 18-month jail sentence for three counts of vehicular homicide, an appeals court ruled Friday.
In January, Common Pleas Judge Stacy Cook released Noel Papenfuse, 22, from the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio just days before his sentence was completed and placed him on probation for five years with conditions that he consume no alcohol or drugs, attend three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week, and tell his story to other teens. Judge Cook also ordered “that there be no calculation of good time” for his behavior and classes and programs he completed at CCNO.
“The court used language indicating it had no control over [Mr. Papenfuse] and his earned good time, yet proceeded to revoke it,” Judge Arlene Singer wrote for Ohio’s 6th District Court of Appeals. “Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied [Mr. Papenfuse] the benefit of good time already earned.”
Mr. Papenfuse was acquitted on felony counts of aggravated vehicular homicide by a jury but found guilty of the misdemeanor charges for an Oct. 21, 2010, crash on North Detroit Avenue in which the car he was driving collided with a pickup, killing three of Mr. Papenfuse’s passengers.
The driver of the pickup, Paul Never, who was 69 at the time, of Ottawa Lake, Mich., pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and was sentenced to four years in prison. He was released with conditions by Judge Cook after serving 18 months.
The appeals court remanded Mr. Papenfuse’s case to the court “for a proper calculation” of his time served credit. Attorney Jerry Phillips called it “a very good decision.”
“Once you earn these credits, a judge shouldn’t be allowed to take them away from you,” he said.
The ruling is important, he said, because if Mr. Papenfuse were to violate the terms of his probation, he could be ordered to serve the remainder of his jail term.
“It makes a huge difference” in the amount of time he could be ordered to serve, Mr. Phillips said.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: email@example.com or 419-213-2134.
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