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Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Judge denies request to reconsider sentencing

By Margie Wuebker
Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Ingraham has turned down a request to reconsider sentencing in the case of an Indiana man who held authorities at bay with a box cutter.
Ricky D. Driskill, 29, of Modoc was sentenced Oct. 24 to seven years and four months in prison on charges of felonious assault of a police officer, theft of a motor vehicle and vehicular assault. He must serve at least five years before seeking judicial release.
In a motion filed Oct. 27, defense attorney John Poppe had asked the court to consider mitigating circumstances including a complex partial seizure that caused his client's abnormal behavior. Several psychiatrists stated Driskill did not know what he was doing at the time, but their analysis also noted the presence of drugs in his system at the time. One of the professionals interpreted the situation as a valid defense for not guilty by reason of insanity.
Poppe charged the psychological testimony given to the court during a pre-sentence hearing was evidence that warranted mitigation, but it was apparently treated as an aggravating factor warranting consecutive sentences.
Citing various case precedence, the councilor indicated his client should have received a minimum sentence totaling four years and six months with the time being served concurrently making him eligible for earlier judicial release.
Dr. Richard Nockowitz, a Lima neuropsychiatrist, testified in regard to medical and mental conditions that led to Driskill's bizarre behavior. Other factors included a withdrawal from alcohol, sleep deprivation and a brain tumor that disappeared without treatment.
Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox in a response to the court stated Driskill is not a mentally ill person as claimed, adding "This court made it clear that it rejected the defendant's claim that he was suffering from a complex partial seizure. Moreover, a seizure is not a mental illness."
In a written decision filed last week, Ingraham said the court exercised discretion in not sentencing Driskill to more time behind bars. Two of the sentences (those for felonious assault and theft of a motor vehicle) were more than the minimum and the other (vehicular assault) was less than the maximum, with the time to be served concurrently.
"It is apparent from the evidence that the defendant does not have a full and complete memory of his criminal conduct," the judge added. However, Ingraham added that a report from one psychiatrist as well as Driskill's own admission indicated the use of alcohol and cocaine several times a month on a "binge" basis.
Ingraham alluded to the admission, adding "May 1, 2005, was not the first time that the defendant's conduct after consuming alcohol and cocaine became bizarre. The court concludes that the defendant knew alcohol and cocaine consumption could result in bizarre behavior, and yet he did so without regard to the foreseeable consequences."
The charges stem from events beginning with an accident that seriously injured a St. Henry-area farmer. Driskill left the scene of the crash in a pickup truck belonging to a first responder. After driving that vehicle over an embankment, he held law enforcement officers at bay with a box cutter. He lunged at Mercer County Sheriff's Deputy Doug Timmerman and was shot once in the stomach.
The struggle continued with Driskill throwing the weapon at Coldwater Patrolman Randy Waltmire, who ducked just in time. It took five officers to subdue him and apply handcuffs.
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