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Published: Friday, 12/13/2002

Victim's father seeks leniency for defendant

Jim Reynoldson had only compassion, not bitterness, when he told Judge William Skow about his feelings for the man responsible for causing the death of his son in a drunk-driving accident.

“He is like a son to me. He was like a brother to my son,” Mr. Reynoldson said at yesterday's sentencing for Robert G. Raitz, 27, in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Mr. Reynoldson's son, James Reynoldson III, 26, was killed March 11 when Raitz, of 4648 Valley Ridge Ct., turned in front of an oncoming semi at West Alexis and Secor roads.

Mr. Reynoldson, who was a passenger in the car, and Raitz were best friends.

Raitz was convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. Judge Skow ordered a three-year prison term, but suspended the punishment and placed him on community control for four years. The judge also ordered Raitz to serve six months in the county drug-treatment facility, followed by three months in a work-release program.

Before being sentenced, Raitz broke down in tears when he apologized for the accident that killed his friend. He sobbed and could barely choke out the words as he thanked Mr. Reynoldson and his family for their support.

Mr. Reynoldson patted Raitz on the back to comfort him and asked Judge Skow for a lenient sentence.

Darrell Van Horn, an attorney for Raitz, said his client and the victim grew up in the same neighborhood. He said Raitz's mother died when he was a baby and Mr. Reynoldson and his late wife took on the role of surrogate parents.

Mr. Van Horn said James Reynoldson III, of Monclova Township, had driven to a bar that night and they both drank, but Raitz ended up with the car keys when they left.

Raitz was westbound on West Alexis when he attempted to turn south onto Secor and collided with the eastbound semi. The driver of the truck was not hurt.

Marla Osgood, an assistant county prosecutor, said Raitz's blood-alcohol content was 0.16 percent, above the legal driving limit in Ohio of 0.10 percent.

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