Local man gets 9 years for death of South Toledoan


David Ziss' life changed the day he was beaten and robbed on a South Toledo street into one of pain and silence, his brother told a judge yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Duane Ziss then asked that one of the men responsible for that change, Steven Colston, be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Already serving prison time for robbing Mr. Ziss, Colston was ordered yesterday to serve an additional nine years in prison for the April death of the 50-year-old South Toledo man. The charges were brought against Colston in June, two years after Mr. Ziss was beaten and robbed as he walked down a Colburn Street sidewalk.

"It was July 15, 2003, when David Ziss was brutally beaten. He was robbed of his health, he was robbed of his freedom of life," Duane Ziss said. "Often it was apparent he was in intense pain because of his injuries, but he couldn't say it."

In November, 2004, Colston, 25, of Toledo was sentenced to nine years in prison for aggravated robbery. Earlier this month, he entered an Alford plea to involuntary manslaughter in the assault. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but pleads guilty to a lesser charge to escape more serious penalties had the case gone to trial.

Colston and a juvenile were accused of kicking Mr. Ziss to the ground and repeatedly kicking him for a pack of cigarettes and a nearly empty wallet. He spent the next two years in a coma.

The co-defendant, Dwayne A. Smith, who was 16 at the time, was convicted of aggravated robbery in December, 2003, for his role in the attack. He died two weeks later after trying to hang himself in jail.

Donna Grill, Colston's attorney, pointed out that witnesses said that the attack was begun by Smith and that Colston joined.

She said her client was remorseful and asked Judge Linda Jennings to take into consideration the two lives already taken in the tragedy - both Mr. Ziss and Smith. Colston did not speak on his own behalf.

"We've already lost two people in this complete nightmare of a situation," she said. "We ask the court to fashion a sentence that allows Steven to have a life in the future."

Assistant County Prosecutor Tim Braun said the total 18-year sentence Colston must serve "fairly represents the damage that was done in this case."

"They would have been kinder if they had just kicked him to death on the sidewalk. Instead, it was two years of being lost in a fog and not knowing who you are or where you're at," Mr. Braun said. "We entered into a plea bargain, but when you kill somebody, there is a price you have to pay."