GREENVILLE — A man was sentenced to two years in prison for aggravated vehicular homicide in Darke County Common Pleas Court Monday. Judge Jonathan P. Hein presided.
Jason Jones, 33, of Greenville, pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony, as well as driving with a prohibited concentration of methamphetamine in his system, in December. The charges carried combined penalties of up to eight years in prison and a mandatory lifetime driver’s license suspension.
Darke County Assistant Prosecutor Jesse Green and defense attorney Randall Braeden jointly recommended a two-year prison sentence during Jones’ hearing Monday.
“This is a tragic situation,” Braeden said. “My client was severely injured in the accident as well and remembers very little except the victim pulling over at a gas station in Trotwood and asking him to drive.”
The charges stem from a single-car crash in February 2018 that resulted in the death of a passenger, 33-year-old Terra Hodge, also of Greenville. Under the terms of his plea, Jones acknowledged that he was driving with a prohibited amount of drugs in his system but not that he was in fact impaired or “under the influence” when the crash took place.
Hodge had a fatal dose of fentanyl in her system, according to Braeden, leading authorities to believe that Jones was in the process of trying to drive her to the hospital when their vehicle veered into a ditch on State Route 49 in Darke County. The amount of meth in Jones’ system was just over the legal limit, Braeden said, and Jones said he had not used the drug since the previous night.
“Most people think I was drunk or high and I went left of center and killed her,” Jones told the court. “But that isn’t what happened. I would never get behind the wheel if I was impaired or allow anyone else to do so.”
Jones went on to describe his relationship with the victim.
“She wasn’t just my friend, she was my very best friend that I could always count on,” Jones said. “I want to say I’m sorry to her family and her kids. They were like my family, and I treated them as my very own.”
Judge Hein cautioned the defendant against viewing any amount of methamphetamine use as safe or acceptable.
“Nothing good is going to come out of using meth, ever,” Hein said. “Why people think that’s a recreational drug is beyond me.”
Hein sentenced Jones to two years on the vehicular homicide charge, with three years of mandatory post-release control and a lifetime driver’s license suspension, and an additional five days on the count of driving under the influence. Jones must also pay $4,000.66 restitution and a $375 fine.
Also in Darke County Common Pleas Court Monday:
Clifford Waldon, 48, of Greenville, pleaded guilty to charges of attempted having a weapon while under disability, a fourth-degree felony. Waldon is disallowed from possessing a firearm as a result of a 2004 conviction for trafficking in cocaine. Defense attorney Randall Braeden said paranoid delusions suffered by the defendant caused him to hear voices.
“He believed people were attempting to tunnel into his home, as well as making threats against himself and his family,” Braeden said. “He believed he needed the gun for protection.”
Judge Hein sentenced Waldon to three days in jail with three days credit and cautioned the defendant’s wife to contact authorities if he were to stop taking his medication.
“You don’t need to play probation officer,” Hein said. “We’ll do that.”