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TRUMBULL COUNTY Driver to finish sentence



Published: Fri, January 18, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The prosecutor said he is 'very pleased' with the ruling.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A 57-year-old Southington man, convicted of involuntary manslaughter for a crash in which four people died, will not be getting out of prison early.

Judge Andrew Logan of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court ruled Thursday that Ronald Mansfield should have to serve the remainder of his prison sentence.

The judge noted in his seven-page ruling that to reduce Mansfield's sentence "would demean the seriousness of this offense."

Atty. Phil Vigorito, who represents Mansfield, had asked the judge last week to grant Mansfield early release. Vigorito said that Mansfield had served four years and eight months in prison and has had no problems while incarcerated.

Vigorito could not be reached to comment on the ruling.

Ken Bailey, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, however, opposed the early release.

"I'm very pleased with this ruling," Bailey said. "I believe he should have to serve the remainder of his sentence."

Background: 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.

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.

Bailey noted that Mansfield had a prior DUI and was driving under suspension at the time of the crash.

What judge said: "The court cannot think of a more serious offense," Judge Logan stated in the ruling. "The defendant with a prior DUI chose to drink and drive under suspension. The defendant was illegally on the road and had been drinking by his own admission."

The judge also noted in the ruling that members of the victims' families have requested that Mansfield receive the maximum sentence.

"These acts of the defendant effected a great number of people," the ruling stated. "The length of sentence will never make up the loss nor will it end the hurt."

sinkovich@vindy.com




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