Plea agreement withdrawn in bicyclist's death


A Monclova Township man, convicted last month of aggravated vehicular homicide for an accident that killed a bicyclist last year, yesterday withdrew from the plea agreement.

Casey Ottinger, 27, of 8481 Maumee-Western Rd. was to be sentenced by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Doneghy for the Sept. 2 accident that resulted in the death of David M. Larabee, who was a popular teacher at Ottawa Hills High School.

Instead, Mr. Ottinger told Judge Doneghy he wanted to withdraw the no-contest plea he entered Jan. 4 and let a jury decide whether he was guilty or innocent of the charge. Judge Doneghy agreed to the defendant's request and set a trial date for May 15.

Mr. Larabee, 41, was killed when he was hit by the defendant's van at Dorr Street and Crissey Road in Springfield Township.

Authorities said Mr. Ottinger was driving north on Dorr about 2:45 p.m. and failed to yield for a stop sign at Crissey, hitting the victim, who was riding west on Dorr. Mr. Larabee was thrown from his bicycle into the windshield of the van. At the time of the accident, Mr. Ottinger didn't have a valid driver's license.

An avid bicyclist, Mr. Larabee often rode his bicycle from his home in Monclova Township back and forth to the school, where he taught physics and calculus for 15 years.

Later, outside the courtroom, the victim's father and stepmother, Richard and Kathleen Larabee, said they were disappointed and blind-sided with the plea change. "We want him taught a lesson to make sure that he never does this again and to assure that another family will not have to suffer like our family has suffered," Mr. Larabee said.

A sentencing hearing had been set last Monday for Mr. Ottinger, and the victim's family and life partner were in the courtroom, expecting him to receive a mandatory sentence of two to eight years in prison. After the hearing was continued, the Larabees and Roy Williamson, the victim's partner, held an emotional meeting with the defendant and his family outside the courtroom.

"He expressed his remorse very clearly and very tearfully," Mrs. Larabee said.

She said her family decided that they would be satisfied with whatever punishment Judge Doneghy ordered.

"The judge has let David down. He has let our family down. This has reopened all the wounds again," she said.

Robert Clark, an assistant county prosecutor, said a jury will decide whether Mr. Ottinger's conduct in causing the accident was negligent or reckless.

Mr. Clark said he believed the indictment that charged the defendant with recklessness was appropriate, in part, because he ran a stop sign and crossed two lanes of traffic before colliding with the victim.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

or 419-213-2134.