By BRIAN BOHNERT
The Fostoria man sentenced to 12 months in prison for the 2012 death of a nine-year-old boy will have to wait before learning if he’ll receive an early release.
Seneca County Judge Michael Kelbley did not make a ruling Wednesday on a request made by George R. Tucker, 75, of Fostoria, for an early judicial release, instead opting to make his decision at a later date. Kelbley has 10 days to rule for or against the request.
The judge sentenced Tucker to one year in prison on Sept. 18 on a charge of aggravated vehicular homicide, a third-degree felony, after his reckless driving Nov. 15, 2012 took the life of Mavin K. Hamilton, 9, of Fostoria.
In addition to his prison term, Tucker was also given a lifetime driver’s license suspension and he is prohibited from ever owning a firearm.
Attorney Dean Henry was once again called to represent Tucker. During the hearing, Henry said his client’s age, declining health, and penance for the crime make him an ideal candidate for early release.
“I think it’s fair to say that, given his advanced years, he’s not going to commit any further crimes,” Henry said. “The lifetime suspension is going to keep him out of the vehicle; and, I personally believe he will comply with that.”
Henry also cited the growing issue of prison overcrowding as cause to release his client, who he said had a “spotless record” prior to the incident.
“The institution is warehousing Mr. Tucker,” he said. “He’s not getting anything out of this and I don’t think there is any more punishment to impart upon him by keeping him warehoused at Lorain, Belmont or any other institution. It’s certainly not going to undo what ultimately put him in there.”
Seneca County Prosecutor Derek W. DeVine, who filed a written opposition to Tucker’s request, defended continuing the incarceration. He said the sentence will defer people from committing this type of offense in the future.
“Keeping him incarcerated sends the message that you don’t get out early for this type of crime,” DeVine said.
Following Henry’s statements, Tucker rose from his chair and apologized to Mavin’s family while speaking on the inner punishment he feels on a daily basis.
“They may not understand what I have to deal with the rest of my life, however much longer I have to live; but, I still have nightmares and stuff about it,” Tucker said. “It’s a burden on me too, like it is on them … Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I wake up and it’s hard to go back to sleep.”
In an emotional prepared statement, Mavin’s mother, Leslie Kroetz, lobbied for Tucker to serve his full sentence, saying her family, his family and her young daughter will have to live with his poor decision long after he is gone.
“It’s 14 months to the day, sir,” Kroetz said to Tucker, with tears in her eyes. “I don’t get an early release. My sentence is life; just like your family, my family and my little girl.”
Mavin was struck at approximately 5:30 p.m. Nov. 15, 2012 on Columbus Avenue near the intersection of East Lytle Street and Springville Avenue. According to reports, he ran out from behind a nearby building and into the roadway, where he was hit and dragged down the road by a Dodge Dakota driven by Tucker. The boy died two days later due to his injuries.
In a reconstruction report created by Lt. C.J. Kinn of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, one witness stated “a young child did not look for traffic — ran across the street into the pickup truck.” Another statement read “four kids come running out from behind a building. Three took off running north toward the tracks and another toward the street.” Tucker himself stated “this kid ran out in front of me.”
During the hearing, however, Kroetz maintained that her son did cross at a designated crosswalk.
“Mavin was nine and his only fault was crossing at a green light,” she said. “… On Nov. 15, he crossed at a green light because the cross light was broken. Mavin’s punishment far outweighs his actions, whereas Mr. Tucker’s punishment does not compare to what he is responsible for.”
Tucker admitted to drinking three shots of Black Velvet whiskey before the incident and his blood alcohol level when Fostoria Police Department conducted a Breathalyzer exam was .094, above the legal limit of .08. However, when the Fremont Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol later conducted a Gas Chromatography on Tucker, his blood alcohol level registered in at .147.
He is currently serving a “stated prison term,” which means prison officials cannot reduce the imposed term for any reason without the judge’s approval. If Kelbley approves Tucker’s early release, the judge said he can impose post-release control on the defendant for up to five years, in addition to the lifetime license and firearm bans.
As of presstime Wednesday, no date has been set for when Kelbley will make his ruling official.
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