Family members of Marissa Presnell wept in relief Wednesday as the Oregon man responsible for the young woman's death in a 2015 drunk-driving crash was sent to prison.
“Finally,” the victim's father, Justin Presnell, said after Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Myron Duhart revoked the $50,000 bond that had kept Cory Speelman, 28, free for more than a year after he was convicted and sentenced. He had been on house arrest prior to his plea.
Court deputies immediately handcuffed Speelman and took him to the county jail to await transfer to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
In October, 2016, Speelman pleaded no contest and was found guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide for the Aug. 21, 2015 death of Ms. Presnell, 19, of Temperance.
Investigators said Speelman was traveling in excess of 100 mph when his motorcycle plowed into the rear of a car in front of him on I-75. Ms. Presnell, who was a passenger on his motorcycle, was thrown some 450 feet and pronounced dead at the scene.
In November, 2016, Judge Duhart sentenced Speelman to five years in prison and suspended his driver's license for life but allowed Speelman to remain free on bond while his attorney appealed an earlier ruling in the case.
On Friday, Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals upheld Judge Duhart's denial of Speelman's motion to suppress the blood draw taken after the crash. Speelman was unconscious and critically injured when the blood sample was taken — without a search warrant — to test his blood-alcohol concentration.
“It seems clear that the 6th District has spoken,” Judge Duhart said. “This court does not find that there is any overwhelming reason as to why this court should continue or allow Mr. Speelman to continue to remain out on bond.”
The judge said he knew the victim's family was upset that Speelman had been free for so long.
“This court always has a balancing process,” he said. “I have to balance punishment with the constitutional rights that were raised in this issue. It is never an easy decision, and so you should know that and I want you to know that.”
Defense attorney Jerome Phillips asked the court to allow Speelman to remain on bond until he learns whether the Ohio Supreme Court will accept the case for review. Mr. Phillips maintains the blood draw violated Speelman's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The appeals court agreed with Judge Duhart in its 3-0 decision that the blood draw was lawful under Ohio's implied-consent law because of the circumstances, including the fact that Speelman was unconscious and unable to consent to a blood draw.
“It's our intention to proceed with an appeal to the Supreme Court of Ohio ... because we believe this case has such significant impact on other cases involving implied consent and the Fourth Amendment,” Mr. Phillips said.
Ms. Presnell's mother, Shelly Odum, said afterward that she was relieved to finally see Speelman handcuffed and led to jail.
“It's very hard. It's hurtful that the justice system allowed him to stay out this long,” she said. “The way she died – or the way he killed her – he should've been put behind bars right away.”
Mr. Presnell said Speelman had gotten “too many breaks” and deserved to go to prison.
“It's not enough, but it’s some kind of justice. That's the main thing,” he said. “It will never be enough, but it's something.”
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.