Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Myron Duhart told Michael Yates he knew what he was doing when he got behind the wheel after taking a higher-than-prescribed dose of his prescription painkiller.
Yates, who crashed into two women near the Hollywood Casino Toledo, killing one of them, will serve five years in prison, Judge Duhart announced during Yates’ sentencing hearing Tuesday. Yates, 42, of 1128 Ironwood Ave. was found guilty in September of aggravated vehicular homicide in the July 21, 2012, death of Stefanie Arnold, 27, of Painesville, Ohio, and vehicular assault for striking and injuring Chelsea Skoch, 24, of Madison, Ohio, who was walking with Ms. Arnold from the Days Inn to the casino when they were struck.
“I understand that your feeling, as you articulated previously and this morning, is that you did not intend to cause the death of Ms. Arnold and the injuries of Ms. Skoch,” the judge told Yates. “I believe that what you seem to, I don’t know, purposefully miss or unconsciously miss is the fact that you intended to get behind the wheel of that car.”
The judge spoke just before he sentenced Yates to a mandatory five years in prison on the charge of aggravated vehicular homicide and to three years on the charge of vehicular assault, to be served concurrently, which amounts to five years behind bars.
Judge Duhart also suspended Yates' driver's license for life and ordered him to pay $5,000 in restitution to the victims.
The Toledo man’s attorney had argued that his client fell asleep after taking a higher-than-prescribed dose of his prescription painkiller and getting behind the wheel.
Yates, who wept when he spoke in court to apologize to the victims’ families Tuesday, faced 2 to 11 years in prison.
“I am sorry,” Yates said while sobbing. “I didn’t mean to. I didn’t know it was going to happen. ... I didn’t mean to hurt nobody or cause no harm to neither of them.”
Lacey Skoch, Chelsea Skoch’s sister, also wept as she addressed the judge before he read the sentence. “This is one evil person with no soul,” she said of Yates. “And if you ask me, this person has no respect for the human life, no respect for the law, and no respect for any of us who are here today.”
Michele Overfield, mother of the late Ms. Arnold, also spoke in court.
“We have become that story,” Ms. Overfield said in a victim impact statement while fighting back tears. “The one that people read about and say furiously at their paper, ‘Sounds like that guy was bound to kill someone.’ ”
After the sentencing, Ms. Overfield told reporters she wished Yates had been sentenced to a longer term.
“I would’ve liked to have seen more,” she said. “... I would've liked to see the maximum. I would’ve liked for him to spend as much time in jail as possible.”
Yates’ conviction on the aggravated vehicular homicide carries a mandatory lifetime driver’s license suspension.
The sentencing was continued until today to deal with the issue of post-release control after Yates completes his prison sentence.