Man arraigned on OVI charge

A Niles man pleaded innocent Tuesday to operating a motor vehicle impaired and child endangering after his blood was tested at 0.38

Niles man pleads in OVI case

By Ed Runyan


A Niles man pleaded innocent Tuesday to operating a motor vehicle impaired and child endangering after his blood alcohol was tested at 0.38 on Saturday — one of the highest concentrations a Niles police captain said he’s ever seen.

William C. Barton, 42, of 830 Warren Ave. appeared in Niles Municipal Court on the charges, which followed his arrest at his home, where a witness said he saw Barton driving erratically with his 4-year-old son in the back seat.

“Thank God that little boy was OK,” said Capt. Ken Criswell of the Niles Police Department. “He could have hit a pedestrian or caused a major crash.”

Criswell said he’s seen only one other person with a higher blood-alcohol reading, which was above 0.40. Barton’s reading was nearly five times the legal limit of 0.08.

Another driver first called 911 at 3:48 p.m., saying he saw Barton’s white Buick LeSabre heading recklessly west on Robbins Avenue. An officer looked for the car but couldn’t find it.

But the witness followed the vehicle until Barton parked it at his house. The witness then drove to the Niles Police Department and told police where to find it, Niles police said.

An officer then found Barton slumped over the steering wheel, the boy sitting in the back seat but not in a car seat or seat belt.

Barton failed field sobriety tests and was unsteady on his feet, police said.

A highway-patrol trooper tested Barton’s blood- alcohol level at the Niles Police Department.

Barton’s mother later picked up Barton and her grandson from the department and took them home.

Barton remains free and returns to court Feb. 13. Both charges are misdemeanors.

Meanwhile, two Warren men were arraigned Tuesday in Warren Municipal Court on charges associated with a Friday afternoon chase and crash on Woodland Street Northeast that injured another driver.

An innocent plea was entered for Chance D. Wells, 22, of Roosevelt Street Northwest to a felony charge of failure to comply with the orders of a police officer. He also pleaded innocent to driving under suspension, a misdemeanor.

Wells remains in the Trumbull County jail in lieu of $15,000 bond.

A passenger in his car, Charville Smith, 23, of Sandpiper Trail Southeast, pleaded innocent to misdemeanor charges of improper handling of firearms in a motor vehicle and marijuana possession.

He was released after posting $1,000 bond.

Sgt. Greg Hoso of the Warren Police Department said he was watching for a fleeing suspect from a robbery in the parking lot at the Chase Bank, 1160 W. Market St., when he spotted the sport-utility vehicle Wells was driving on Washington Street near Park Avenue about 1:30 p.m. and followed it.

The vehicle was weaving in and out of traffic as it headed east, then ran a red light and collided with another vehicle at Woodland and Laird avenues northeast.

Police apprehended Wells and Smith after short foot chases.

The driver of the other car was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, but the crash caused significant damage to both cars.

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