By MARGIE WUEBKER
Tears flowed from the victim’s family as well as from
the young woman charged with causing the Jan. 9 traffic accident
that killed Harold J. Homan Friday.
Homan’s family members spoke lovingly about the 66-year-old
husband, father and grandfather who succumbed to his injuries
more than three months after the accident.
Misty Brill, 19, 632 Grove St., Celina, sat at the defense table
with head bowed as Judge James Scheer imposed a $750 fine, as
well as the maximum five-year operator’s license suspension,
in her vehicular homicide case.
However, the judge stopped short of imposing jail time, including
the 101 days requested by Homan’s family members. The
number equates to the amount of time the Celina-area man clung
to life in the wake of multiple injuries — first at Miami
Valley Hospital in Dayton and then at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Hospital in Carmel, Ind.
“We would expect a sentence, at minimum, to be equal to
the time he struggled so Miss Brill could reflect on the impact
she has brought to us all,” Dale Homan said reading from
a prepared statement. He said this appearance marks the latest
in nearly a dozen and a half trips he made from his Raleigh,
N.C., home since the accident at the intersection of Ohio 118
and Watkins Road in Granville Township.
“On Jan. 9, 2003, my life and the lives of my entire family
changed forever,” he added.
He likened his father’s struggle to recover to a roller
coaster ride fraught with ups and downs. The final heart-wrenching
dip occurred April 19, when the retired farmer and Cooper Foods
employee succumbed to the injuries and resulting complications.
The tragedy came less than a month after Rosalie Homan, injured
in the same accident as her husband, underwent surgery and suffered
a stroke. She remains a patient at The Gardens at St. Henry.
Blake Ayers, a 9-year-old grandson of Homan, read a statement
he drafted in a voice ripe with emotion.
“Because of what you did, my Grandpa died,” the
boy said looking at the petite, dark-haired defendant. “I
write worries about him in my ‘Worry Book.’ I am
sad, too, because he won’t get to see me grow up.”
Brill initially was cited for a stop sign violation following
the accident and paid a $100 fine. Mercer County Prosecutor
Andy Hinders filed the more serious first-degree misdemeanor
in the weeks following the death of the Burrville Road resident.
She entered a no contest plea Nov. 7.
The accident occurred as the Homans were returning from his
eyeglass fitting in Greenville. Brill was en route from school
to change clothes at home before heading to work. Eastbound
on Watkins Road, she failed to stop completely and rolled into
the intersection at an estimated 20 miles per hour. Following
the impact, the Homans’ Chevrolet Venture minivan spun
before striking the ditch and rolling onto the driver’s
Family members listened intently as the young woman they earlier
accused of showing no remorse took the opportunity to address
“I didn’t know he died until I read it in the paper,”
she said. “I didn’t want to bother you guys and
then you guys filed a civil suit. I want to say I’m sorry.”
Brill remarked through tears that she, too, was a victim. She
claimed the Army kicked her out after the accident and she is
now faced with the prospect of paying for all her schooling.
Defense attorney Kathy Speelman addressed the matter of remorse,
noting her client deeply regretted the tragedy.
“If she could turn back time, she certainly would. If
she could bring back Mr. Homan, she certainly would. If she
could make Mrs. Homan better, she certainly would. There is
nothing she can do to change what happened. Financial sanctions
or incarceration will not bring Mr. Homan back or take away
the family’s pain.”
Brill’s mother and a longtime friend also addressed the
court, explaining a long history of family problems that eventually
led to Brill’s placement in foster care.
“This little girl has been through a lot,” Randy
Johnson said “She always managed to hold her head up through
everything. Some of us get knocked back two steps for every
step we take.”
Scheer commented that tragic consequences can and do occur when
motorists fail to heed stop signs. He also remarked about a
questionable degree of remorse and told the Homans jail would
have been part of the sentence if the defendant’s previous
traffic citations had been for stop sign violations instead
of speeding. Vehicular homicide carries the possibility of six
months behind bars.
“Mr. Homan drove more than 40 years and only had one citation,”
the judge said.
To the defendent, he said, “I applaud you for no alcohol
infractions but I can’t downplay what happened. You still
have life, but a life was lost and another one was hurt. If
a little more time had been taken that day, a tragedy could
have been prevented.”