Former Fitch football star headed to prison for robbery
By Justin Wier
Tyler Hewlett appeared to be on the right track.
His standout performance on Austintown Fitch High School’s football team earned him a full scholarship to Youngstown State University.
He had designs on the starting running back position at YSU and a promise he could help coach at Fitch.
Then, in January 2017, he and others broke into an Austintown apartment and demanded “weed and money” at gunpoint.
Hewlett didn’t wield the gun, but his actions still earned him four years in prison Friday.
“Coach Tressel, now [YSU] President [James P.] Tressel, says, ‘Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future,” said Judge Lou A. D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. “In this case, that’s exactly what happened.”
Hewlett’s attorney, A. Ross Douglas, characterized his actions as “out of character.”
“This is not the type of life my client ever envisioned for himself,” Douglas said.
He said Hewlett developed an addiction to marijuana and alcohol, which he said does not excuse his actions but explains them.
Hewlett and three others broke into the Austintown apartment to steal marijuana from a drug dealer, investigators said.
Brian Pressley, 20, of Youngstown also received four years in prison; Beau Jeffries, 19, of Austintown received two years’ probation; and Phillip Ritchie, 19, of Canfield received intervention in lieu of conviction.
Hewlett said his decision to participate in the robbery was “wrong,” “dumb” and “stupid.”
“It kills me every day I think about it,” he told the court.
Judge D’Apolito said he would consider early judicial release at the right time provided Hewlett behaves himself in prison.
Mike Yacovone, an assistant Mahoning County prosecutor, said he would not oppose judicial release, assuming good behavior, because Hewlett cooperated with investigators.
“You have a long life ahead of you,” Judge D’Apolito said. “Only you can decide whether it’s full of life, love and happiness or something that’s painful for your family.”