LISBON - Thomas L. Peterson, the man who failed to appear for sentencing in February for an aggravated vehicular assault conviction, received an additional six-month sentence from Judge Scott Washam on Thursday morning.
Peterson, 49, Speidel Road, Hanoverton, was eventually located on the bench warrant and was sentenced in April to 53 months for aggravated vehicular assault, possession of drugs (cocaine), tampering with evidence and failure to comply with a police order. Some of the accusations were due to Peterson attempting to hide a crack cocaine pipe after the crash.
The charges had involved a car accident, which injured Lynn Mitchell on April 13, 2013 at the intersection of state Routes 7 and 14 in Columbiana. At the time, Peterson was reportedly fleeing from state troopers and ran the red light at the intersection, crashing into Mitchell's vehicle.
On Thursday, Peterson appeared to be sentenced on the failure to appear charge, from the time he did not show up for sentencing on the other four charges. Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart requested a 12-month sentence and asked it to be served consecutive to the 53-month sentence Peterson is currently serving.
Weikart pointed out when Peterson had been located he was in a Mahoning County hotel room, not far from the county line, with a large amount of cash and cocaine in the room. He now faces an additional drug-related charge in Mahoning County from when he was located there.
Weikart also noted Mitchell attended all the hearings until Peterson was sentenced in her case, but the same could not be said of Peterson. Weikart called Peterson's past record "deplorable" and added he added "unnecessary delays" when it came to the court's schedule and "a burden on law enforcement" when they went after Peterson. Weikart added he did not know if an additional 12-month sentence would deter Peterson's behavior in the future, but he believed it sent a message which may deter other's considering not appearing for sentencing.
Peterson also made a statement before sentencing, telling Washam he knew he made a mistake.
"I didn't want to go back to prison," Peterson said. "I had just gotten out of prison. All this was a wreck and I got four and a half years."
Washam sentenced Peterson to only six months, but also pointed out the accident Peterson was involved in was much more than just a wreck. Peterson had caused serious injuries to Mitchell and the charges also involved drugs and fleeing from law enforcement. Mitchell's injuries had including a severe concussion, glass removed from her head, a back injury and a broken hand.