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Published: Wednesday, 5/14/2008

Springfield Local teacher who led police on chase is found not guilty

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Kovin Kovin
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Frederick McDonald ruled yesterday that a former Springfield Local Schools teacher who led police on a chase and veered his vehicle toward a state trooper during the pursuit was insane at the time of the incident.

Louis Kovin, who was charged with one count each of felonious assault and failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, was found not guilty by reason of insanity after a bench trial before Judge McDonald.

Mr. Kovin, 40, of 862 Cherry Lane, Waterville, was arrested Nov. 12 in Wood County after leading officers on a chase that ended when a tire on his van was punctured by spikes and the van crashed into a pond off I-75 near State Rt. 582.

The pursuit, which reached speeds in excess of 117 mph, began at the school district's offices in Springfield Township, where he became upset after a meeting with an assistant superintendent who told him that he was going to be fired.

He had been a technology teacher since 2005 and employed in the district since 1998.

Mr. Kovin's attorney, Jerome Phillips, argued to Judge McDonald that his client was attempting to kill himself when he was fleeing from police and didn't know the wrongfulness of his acts.

"He had long-term bipolar disorder. He couldn't control his behavior," Mr. Phillips said in his closing argument.

Judge McDonald reached his decision about an hour after hearing testimony from a Lucas County sheriff's deputy and three other law enforcement officers who joined in the pursuit of Mr. Kovin.

The judge also reviewed the evaluations of two psychologists who concluded that the defendant was mentally ill at the time of the incident.

Mr. Phillips said in an interview after the trial that Mr. Kovin was under doctor's care for bipolar disorder and was given new medication that made him more depressed. "On top of that, he received the news that he was being terminated. I think that pushed him over the edge," Mr. Phillips said.

Judge McDonald scheduled a hearing for July 8 to determine what level of psychiatric treatment, if any, will be needed for Mr. Kovin.

Under state law, if Mr. Kovin is determined to still be mentally ill, Judge McDonald must place him in the least restrictive hospitalization for treatment and one that will protect him and provide safety to the community.

If he had been convicted of the two offenses, Mr. Kovin was facing up to 15 years in prison.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 734-241-3610.



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