Thursday, May 3rd, 2007
Woman receives three years probation
By Margie Wuebker
A Coldwater woman who bit off one-third of a man's tongue in March 2006 likely will serve no time behind bars.
Emily M. Mescher, 26, 724 Lilac St., wiped tears Wednesday afternoon as Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Ingraham imposed up to three years probation on a fourth-degree felony charge of aggravated assault.
Other community control sanctions include participating in a mental health program recommended by her probation officer, maintaining employment, observing a midnight to 8 a.m. curfew, consuming no alcohol or drugs of abuse and submitting to random tests at her own cost. She must also pay $3,134 in restitution. Violations could lead to imposition of a 16-month prison sentence.
"No sentence can adequately repair the harm done to the victim," Ingraham told the blonde-haired woman. "The court has no magic wand."
Looking around co-counsel Brandie L. Hawkins, who shielded Mescher from television and newspaper cameras throughout the court proceeding, Ingraham expressed the hope that Mescher could one day express empathy to victim Chad Ringo.
Earlier in a voice choked with emotion, she told the court "I'm very sorry. I never intended for something like this to happen."
The incident occurred the night of March 18, 2006, in the 100 block of South Main Street. Co-counsel William Kluge explained drinking played a part in a situation that quickly spiraled out of control.
"They had a relationship that had been terminated at one point," Kluge added. "He had his tongue in her mouth. Emily felt backed into a corner. She acknowledges her guilt in this matter and has complied with everything the court asked her to do during the past 14 months."
Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox labeled the defendant's admission and apology "too little, too late," charging she would not be amenable to probation until she accepts true responsibility instead of mere lip service.
Ringo, who was 29 at the time, suffered amputation of a portion of his tongue. Initially taken by ambulance to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater, he was later transferred by medical helicopter to St. Rita's Medical Center in Lima. Attempts to reattach the severed portion recovered at the scene were unsuccessful.
"We're talking about a permanent injury - permanent loss of taste, permanent loss of the front one-third of his tongue and a permanent change to his voice due to the tracheotomy he had to have," Fox said. "There is no evidence of any remorse."
Noting Mescher sought no counseling for alcohol or anger during the ensuing 14 months, Fox added she offered nothing but excuses. When bar patrons inquired about blood on her face the night of the incident, Mescher claimed there was no problem, saying she was drunk and did not remember what transpired outside and then suggested Ringo's injury was self-inflicted, Fox told the court.
Mescher pleaded no contest Feb. 16 to the assault charge and cited a stipulation of facts to support conviction. As part of a negotiated agreement, the state dropped a more serious charge of felonious assault.
Ingraham indicated his decision to impose probation rather than incarceration was based on her lack of a criminal history, her compliance to mandates following the incident and her demonstrated responsibility as an employee and the mother of a young son.
"The behavior that night seems very much out of character," he said. "The mental state of someone under the influence is not the same as in a sober state."