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TRUMBULL COUNTY Judge to decide on early release



Published: Wed, January 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The prosecutor wants the remainder of the sentence to be served.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A Trumbull County Common Pleas judge will soon decide if a 57-year-old Southington man should be released early from prison.

Judge Andrew Logan heard arguments Tuesday by Atty. Phil Vigorito as to why Ronald Mansfield should be freed.

"He has served four years and eight months in prison," Vigorito told the judge. "He has had no problem in prison. He is currently in a minimum-security prison facility."

Ken Bailey, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, said he opposes the early release because Mansfield "killed four people."

The judge said he will review the matter and issue his decision within 10 days.

Pleaded guilty: Mansfield pleaded guilty in March 1997 to four counts of involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced in May 1997 to five to 10 years in prison. Because the crime happened in 1996, before the state's new sentencing guidelines, Mansfield was eligible for parole after serving 31/2 years, court officials said.

The parole board, however, denied Mansfield's request for parole, court officials said.

"If he is upset with what the parole board did, then he should take that up with them," Bailey said. "I believe he should serve the remainder of his sentence."

The Ohio State Highway Patrol said Mansfield was driving a pickup truck on U.S. Route 422 on May 25, 1996, and crashed into the side of a car driven by Craig Gelofsack Jr., 36, of Willoughby Hills. Gelofsack and his wife, Renee Lynn, and two passengers, Tonya M. Headley, 30, of Middlefield and Wallace I. Hurd, 33, of Chardon, were killed.

Bailey said Mansfield had been drinking at the time of the crash and left the scene. Mansfield went to the OSHP Southington post the next day, Bailey said.

Mansfield, who cried during the hearing, told the judge that he was sorry for his actions. He apologized to the victims' families as well as his family.

Members of the victims' families, however, urged the judge not to grant the early release. The victims said they did not believe Mansfield was remorseful.

Vigorito said his client is "remorseful."

"Six months before this crash happened, Mr. Mansfield's younger brother was killed in a car crash," Vigorito said.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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