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Published: Saturday, 12/20/2008

Court asked to bar new trial in fatal hit-skip crash

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Attorneys for a Rossford man convicted in a fatal hit-and-run crash nearly three years ago have asked an appeals court to call off a second trial in the case.

Adrian Cimerman, attorney for David O'Neill, filed a petition with the 6th District Court of Appeals asking the court to block Wood County Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry from conducting a jury trial next month on the grounds that when the appeals court threw out previous convictions, it dismissed three charges involved rather than sending them back to county court for a new trial.

"The case was not remanded to the trial court for further proceedings," Mr. Cimerman wrote in his petition to the appeals court. "The state did not seek rehearing to clarify the court's mandate, nor did they seek leave to have the Ohio Supreme Court accept jurisdiction to hear the appeal."

But in May, Judge Mayberry ordered that O'Neill be tried on the disputed counts.

O'Neill, 64, is serving a four-year sentence for failure to stop after an accident. The charge stemmed from the Jan. 15, 2006, crash that killed Dr. Stephen Snedden, 47, of Perrysburg, as he cycled along State Rt. 65 just north of Five Point Road.

At his first trial in May, 2006, O'Neill had pleaded no contest to, and was found guilty of, three other crash-related charges - intoxicated driving, aggravated vehicular homicide, and aggravated vehicular assault - and was sentenced by Judge Mayberry to 12 years in prison.

But earlier this year, the appeals court vacated those convictions on the grounds that the trial court should have suppressed results of a blood-alcohol test because prosecutors did not prove the test was administered according to state regulations.

Mr. Cimerman said yesterday that much of Judge Mayberry's decision to retry O'Neill was based on a Lucas County case he handled in which the appeals court dismissed the aggravated vehicular homicide and aggravated vehicular assault convictions of Lance Kincaid, also because the court had not suppressed blood-test results.

"The difference is in Kincaid, the court of appeals specifically reversed and remanded" the case to the trial court, Mr. Cimerman said. "In O'Neill, they reversed. They didn't remand."

Gwen Howe-Gebers, an assistant prosecutor who handled the O'Neill case, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Dr. Snedden and former Perrysburg resident George Haig were cycling on West River Road when they were struck by a vehicle that did not stop. O'Neill was pulled over and arrested a short time later in Perrysburg.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

ffeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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