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Court overturns several convictions

Felonious assault and resisting arrest dropped for man found sleeping in van

YOUNGSTOWN — The 7th District Court of Appeals has overturned the felonious assault and resisting-arrest convictions of a Mogadore man.

Donald Holladay was sentenced to nine years in prison last year following a trial.

The panel upheld only Holladay’s obstructing official business conviction and ordered that his case return to Judge Maureen Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for resentencing.

Holladay, 30, was indicted on the three offenses as a result of an Oct. 12, 2018, incident near the North Benton Post Office in Smith Township in which Holladay struck a Smith Township police officer with his minivan.

Appeals judges David D’Apolito, Gene Donofrio and Carol Ann Robb ruled that there was insufficient evidence presented at the trial to prove felonious assault and resisting arrest because there was no testimony given to indicate that Holladay was intending to use his minivan as a weapon.

Smith Township patrolman Chad Caughey was the only witness in the trial. He testified that he was dispatched for a minivan that was parked in the North Benton post office parking lot for several hours.

The rural post office public-service counter had been closed about 90 minutes when the patrolman arrived.

The officer knocked on the window but got no response after seeing Holladay asleep on the front passenger seat. He thought Holladay might have overdosed. When he knocked a second time, Holladay awakened. The officer asked Holladay if he was OK.

Holladay replied with an expletive and refused to exit the vehicle, repeating his expletive. Caughey called for a officer from Sebring to assist. Holladay then reached down to the floorboard, then climbed into the back of the vehicle, Caughey testified.

The officer took cover behind a nearby truck, drew his service weapon and ordered Holladay to show his hands, but Holladay raised a finger in an offensive gesture and again swore at the officer.

Caughey said his intent was to arrest Holladay for disorderly conduct because of his use of profane language and failure to comply with orders. Caughey said he also is required to document any contact he has with the public and needed Holladay’s name and address for report purposes.

Because he could not see well into the van and Holladay had moved to the front driver’s seat, the officer repositioned himself on the driver’s side of the car a few feet behind the rear-view mirror.

The officer had a baton in one hand and his service weapon in the other, then saw Holladay putting the van in reverse and accelerating the vehicle. The tires had trouble gaining traction in the gravel.

The officer testified that Holladay was “not coming after” the officer with the van but was “trying to leave,” the ruling states. The officer “bounced off the frame of the vehicle,” broke the driver’s window with his baton, and Holladay hit the brakes. Caughey had not been injured.

The Sebring officer arrived then, and they ordered Holladay out of the vehicle, but Holladay still did not exit. Holladay then got out of the vehicle and fled on foot, but Caughey tackled him, causing Caughey to get a sprained wrist.

Assistant Mahoning County prosecutors told jurors in opening statements and closing arguments that Holladay turned the steering wheel before stepping on the gas pedal and “swung the front end of the minivan into Patrolman Caughey,” the ruling states.

However, Caughey did not testify that Holladay turned the wheel. Instead, that information was apparently contained in a police report, which was not admitted into evidence, the ruling states.

At the end of the testimony, defense attorney James Vivo asked Judge Sweeney to dismiss all charges, but Judge Sweeney overruled the motion.

The appeals panel found Holladay did obstruct official business because he got out of the van and fled on foot.

Holladay has been in prison since April 15, 2019. Judge Sweeney sentenced Holladay to eight years on the felonious assault and one year on resisting arrest and 18 months on the obstructing official business — all to be served at the same time.

Sweeney sentenced Holladay to another year in prison because Holladay was on probation out of Summit County on another case at the time.

erunyan@tribtoday.com

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