By Elise Franco
A Boardman man accused of trying to strangle a former deputy sheriff will avoid jail because of a medical evaluation that determined his actions were a side effect of missing a dose of his Parkinson’s medication.
David Hughes, 58, of Boardman, was sentenced Thursday to five years’ probation and an indefinite period of house arrest by Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Hughes pleaded guilty July 29 to felonious assault and child endangering after police said he attempted to strangle a 63-year-old woman with a pair of panty hose on April 26 while outside Dollar General on South Raccoon Road.
The child-endangering charge stems from Hughes having his 5-year-old grandson in the car with him when the incident occurred, police said.
A court-ordered evaluation in November determined that Hughes, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, shows no signs of mental illness. The evaluation stated that Hughes’ behavior during the incident was likely the result of a reaction from being off his Parkinson’s medication.
“This evaluation has strong evidence that he suffered from a medical condition at the time of the offenses,” Judge Krichbaum said.
Hughes told Judge Krichbaum that he only remembers the moments leading up to and immediately after the attack.
“I remember leading up to it,” he said. “And I remember hearing sirens and people yelling around me. I knew something happened, something was wrong.”
Judge Krichbaum said he didn’t take Hughes’ actions lightly, regardless of the reason behind them.
“I have a great hurdle granting a community-control sanction because of the absolute horror the victim went through,” he said. “But it appears by your medical reputation that this was not the act of a criminal.” In addition to five years’ probation and indefinite house arrest, Hughes must maintain, without interruption, all prescription medication regimens.
Judge Krichbaum said the length of the house arrest with depend on Hughes’ progress staying on his medication and reports from medical providers and probation officers.
The court also asked to obtain a copy of his medical reports from the Cleveland Clinic so that any potential side effects can be avoided or properly managed.
The judge said that if Hughes violates any of the terms of his sentence he’ll be sent to prison for no less than eight years.
“My dissatisfaction here is that there should be an element of punishment imposed, if nothing more than for the sake of the victim,” Judge Krichbaum said. “But as I said before, I don’t believe you knew what you were doing at the time due to your medical condition.”
The victim, Dorothy Frazzini, of Austintown, said she’s unhappy with the judge’s sentence.
“I think he knew exactly what he was doing, and he’s blaming his medication, but he should be in jail like anyone else,” she said.
“It torments me now. ... I look over my shoulder every time I get into my car,” she said. “[Hughes] has five years on probation, but mine is for life.
“He played me and got my guard down, and that’s what he did today to the [justice] system.”