Man gets the max: 40 years in prison

Krichbaum’s sentence would keep the repeat violent offender locked up until he’s 91 years old.

By Peter H. Milliken

YOUNGSTOWN — A repeat violent offender who was convicted by a jury last week of kidnapping and aggravated burglary has received maximum consecutive sentences totaling 40 years in prison, which would keep him locked up until he’s 91 years old.

Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court imposed the sentence Monday on Daniel Austin, 51, of Forestview Drive, who broke into an East Side woman’s home and held her against her will in May.

The sentence consists of 10 years on each charge, plus 10 years for the repeat violent-offender specification attached to each charge, all to be served consecutively.

The violent-offender specifications stem from Austin’s 1980 conviction for the aggravated murder of Steve Bona Sr., 78, of Woodside Avenue, for which he was sentenced to 16 years to life in prison. He was released from prison in 2001.

In the case for which Austin was sentenced Monday, Gabriel Wildman, assistant county prosecutor, told the jury Austin took a spare key from a 50-year-old East Side woman, entered her home and waited for her to return.

Austin beat the woman unconscious, locked her in a storage closet and told her he was going to kill her and leave her in a field where she would not be found, Wildman said.

The woman told Austin she had to use the restroom and managed to run to a neighbor’s house for help, Wildman added.

The jury acquitted Austin of felonious assault and attempted aggravated murder charges in the May incident.

Wildman told the judge he endorsed the victim’s recommendation for a 40-year prison term, but the victim did not give a victim-impact statement in court.

“It’s a home-invasion case where he kidnapped her. He tortured her. He tied her, bound her, threw her in a closet and told her that he would kill her,” Wildman said. “It amounts to needless and senseless violence,” he added.

Wildman said the crimes changed the victim’s life “for the worse in a very dramatic way” and that she has trouble sleeping.

Defense lawyer Paul Conn said the maximum sentence shouldn’t be imposed because the prosecutor couldn’t prove that Austin caused or tried to cause physical harm or serious physical harm. He also said his client isn’t likely to re-offend because of his age and health problems.

Austin maintained his innocence in the homicide and in the current case and said he plans to appeal. “I’ve never had a fair break in these halls,” he said afterward.

Judge Krichbaum found that the victim suffered serious psychological injury and he found no factors that reduced the seriousness of the crimes.

“He’s already proven that he is someone who is incapable of maintaining a law-abiding life,” the judge said of Austin.

“There are times I am glad I’m here because somebody’s got to do this and got to do the right thing in a case like this,” Judge Krichbaum said before pronouncing the sentence.

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