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Published: Tuesday, 4/1/2008

Driver who hit man in Sylvania Township roadway gets prison term

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A tearful Justin Pool said in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday his actions the night of June 23 were "the most serious thing" he's done, then admitted to knowing he needs help.

It is help his attorney hoped would come with time spent in the Correctional Treatment Facility but instead took shape in the form of time behind bars.

Pool, 20, of 5531 Dennison Rd., was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday for causing the June death of a man whom he ran over on the way home from a party. The victim, Ronald White, Jr., was lying partly in the roadway at the time of the incident.

Pool pleaded no contest Feb. 26 to one count each of leaving the scene of an accident, a felony, and vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors originally charged him with aggravated vehicular homicide but amended the indictment to the lesser charge because of the evidence in the case.

Yesterday, Judge Gene Zmuda noted that during a review of the case to ensure the lower charge was justified that he considered one fact: There was insufficient evidence that Pool was intoxicated at the time he hit Mr. White.

"There's only one person in this room, I daresay there's only one person in this world, who knows the answer to that question and that is Mr. Pool," he said.

Judge Zmuda said he would consider judicial release, but only after Pool served six months in prison.

Pool was driving home from a party on Blossman Road near the I-475 overpass when he ran over Mr. White's head and shoulders with his front tire. Mr. White, 37, of 3522 Zone Ave., was lying on the shoulder of the road with a portion of his upper body in the roadway, authorities said.

The victim had 0.28 percent blood-alcohol content. In Ohio, a motorist is considered legally drunk with 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content.

When questioned by Sylvania Township police on Sept. 15, Pool admitted that he was driving home after drinking two beers that night. He told police that he was putting a CD in the player and that while his eyes were off the road, he hit what he thought was a bump.

He told police that he looked in the review mirror, saw nothing, and continued on, authorities said.

Assistant County Prosecutor Robert Miller said on the day of the plea that two other motorists on the same road that night saw Mr. White and called emergency crews. He was found at about 2:30 a.m. and pronounced dead at the scene.

Since his arrest, Pool was ordered to undergo regular drug testing. Two of those tests were positive, Judge Zmuda noted.

Yesterday, defense attorney Jon Richardson said Pool had begun and will continue to punish himself for his negligence that night. He said Pool's drug use in the last few months showed not defiance to the court, but instead a man who "is dealing and not very well."

Mr. Richardson suggested in-custody drug treatment, saying the accident was something Pool will never let himself forget. Pool was surrounded by family members in the courtroom.

Members of the victim's family were not present.

"He's on shaky ground but with you in his life, whether he likes it or not, he can get better," Mr. Richardson said. "In the end, I think he'll thank you for it."

Judge Zmuda sentenced Pool to six months in prison for the misdemeanor charge to run concurrent with the three years in prison for failing to stop. He also suspended Pool's driver's license for three years for each count.



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