GREENVILLE – A Greenville man was led from the courtroom in handcuffs Thursday, on his way to prison for the drunk-driving death of a teen last August.
Tyler J. Holzapfel, 23, of Greenville, pleaded guilty in March to a charge of aggravated vehicular homicide, which was reduced to a second-degree felony from a first-degree felony in exchange for the plea. Additional charges of failing to stop after an accident, driving under the influence, driving under suspension and furnishing alcohol to a minor also were dismissed.
Holzapfel was believed to have been driving drunk on a suspended license Aug. 2, 2015, when he crashed his 2004 Ford pickup truck into a utility pole and a fence in the 2000 block of Mills Road near New Madison. The vehicle came to a rest on its top, and Holzapfel fled the scene.
He left behind his 19-year-old passenger, Samuel Barga, of Greenville, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Holzapfel has a history of multiple driving under the influence offenses, in addition to underage consumption.
Jesse Green, of the Darke County Prosecutor’s Office, and Jose Lopez, Holzapfel’s defense attorney, jointly recommended a sentence of four years in prison with a minimum of three years to be served.
Judge Jonathan P. Hein, Darke County Common Pleas Court, noted that much of Holzapfel’s problem is related to an unacknowledged substance abuse problem.
“Prior traffic, prior alcohol-related offenses, failure to respond favorably to prior treatment. There’s an ongoing substance abuse problem, Mr. Holzapfel, and the indicators would be that you’re not acknowledging it,” Hein said. “That’s a problem you don’t believe you have or you don’t understand the severity of it.
“In this case,” Hein continued in addressing the defendant, “everybody’s going to attribute your conduct in the death to alcohol, and then whether you own the responsibility or not is up to you.”
Holzapfel apologized to the victim’s family and his own “for all the pain” he had caused them through his actions.
He was sentenced to four years in prison with a mandatory three years of post-release control, ordered to pay court costs and had his driver’s license suspended for five years.