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Published: Thursday, 9/28/2006

Driver guilty of vehicular homicide in bike fatality

Ottinger Ottinger

A 28-year-old Monclova Township man who struck and killed a bicyclist after running a stop sign in western Lucas County was convicted yesterday of felony vehicular homicide.

A Common Pleas Court jury deliberated about two hours before finding Casey Ottinger guilty of the charge. He was found not guilty of the more serious offense of aggravated vehicular homicide.

The conviction stems from the Sept. 2, 2005, death of David Larabee, who was struck by Ottinger's van on Dorr Street at Crissey Road in Springfield Township.

Ottinger, of 8481 Maumee-Western Rd., was driving with a suspended license at the time.

"Nobody won today. David Larabee is gone. Casey Ottinger will be punished; not for what the state accused him of, but punished nonetheless. The verdict was fair and the system worked," said Jon Richardson, Ottinger's defense attorney.

Mr. Larabee, 41, was a physics and calculus teacher at Ottawa Hills High School who often commuted to school by bike.

On the day of the accident, he was riding to his home near Whitehouse in Monclova Township when he rode into the path of the defendant's skidding vehicle.

"The only thing that kept David from riding his bike was deep snow," said Roy Williamson, the victim's partner.

Ottinger was driving north on Crissey, and failed to yield for the stop sign at Dorr. He told Ohio Highway Patrol troopers that he didn't realize the road ended at Dorr, and thought a driveway on the north end of the intersection was the continuation of Crissey. Mr. Larabee was struck as the defendant skidded in the intersection.

Ottinger faces a mandatory sentence of six months to 1 1/2 years in jail, considerably less than the two to eight-year punishment for aggravated vehicular homicide. Judge Charles Doneghy scheduled sentencing for Nov. 13.

Ottinger pleaded no contest to the offense in January, but withdrew from the plea agreement on Feb. 2.

Mr. Williamson said he was "infuriated," not so much with the verdict, but because he believed Judge Doneghy had unfairly ruled against prosecutors on issues in the case.

"The judge blocked them at most every turn," he said.

Mr. Williamson and his late companion's parents, Richard and Kathleen Larabee, were present for all of Ottinger's appearances in Judge Doneghy's courtroom, as well as the two-day trial.

"I have lost a son. The Ottingers will lose their son for a very short period. This is a terribly, terribly sad thing for to have happened," Mr. Larabee said.

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