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The Daily



12-13-03: Celina court sentencing for fatality proves tearful for all


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 side.
Family members listened intently as the young woman they earlier accused of showing no remorse took the opportunity to address the court.
“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.”


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