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MAHONING COUNTY Prosecutor's office contests reduced prison sentence



Published: Fri, January 7, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



An appeals court took more than a decade from the term of a convicted robber.

YOUNGSTOWN -- The Mahoning County Prosecutor's office has asked the 7th District Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision to cut more than 11 years off the sentence of city man convicted in 2002.

Last week, the appellate court ruled the trial court made a sentencing error for Chad Barnette, who along with James Goins was convicted in March 2002 for the brutal robberies of three elderly South Side residents.

Goins and Barnette broke into the Miller Street home of William Sovak, who was 83 at the time, brutally beat him, left him to die in a locked fruit cellar and robbed his home in January 2001.

That same day, they broke into the home of Louis and Elizabeth Luchisan of Marmion Avenue and beat and robbed them.

Judge R. Scott Krichbaum sentenced both men, who were 17 at the time but tried as adults, to 851/2 years in prison on multiple charges of attempted aggravated murder, aggravated robbery felonious assault, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and receiving stolen property.

Barnette's lawyers appealed the sentence, saying the court made five errors, including that Judge Krichbaum based his maximum consecutive sentences on inappropriate criteria and in "violation of Ohio law and due process."

Sentencing errors

The appellate court dismissed three of the five errors, but ruled that the judge made sentencing errors imposed on Barnette for two of the crimes.

The court modified Barnette's 18-month prison sentence on the receiving stolen property charge so that it runs concurrently -- at the same time -- with the sentences on the remaining charges.

The court ruled that under Ohio law a defendant cannot be sentenced for both a theft crime and a receiving stolen property crime based on the same stolen property, which was Luchison's car. Therefore, the judge should not have imposed an additional sentence of the receiving stolen property conviction.

The court also reduced Barnette's sentence on the aggravated robbery charge to two years, also to run concurrently with the other charges. It ruled the judge did not list any other basis for imposing the maximum sentence on Barnette for that crime.

The appellate court ruling reduced Barnette's sentence from 851/2 years to 74 years. The court can modify a sentence from a trial court or send it back to the lower court for resentencing.

Flawed judgment?

But Jay Macejko, an assistant county prosecutor, asked the court to reconsider its decision this week because the appellate judges made their own error.

Macejko pointed out that state law says the minimum sentence for a person convicted of aggravated robbery is three years, not two.

The more important issue for reconsideration, however, is that the crime against Sovak in particular was brutal, that a jury convicted Barnette and that Judge Krichbaum imposed a sentence that was commensurate with Barnette's conduct, Macejko wrote.

He added that Barnette wasn't convicted of just one offense, aggravated robbery, but multiple felonies, and the findings and the sentences imposed must be judged as a whole.




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