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03-22-04 Minster man sentenced to prison for fatal accident

By Shelley Grieshop

GREENVILLE — A Minster man was sentenced this morning in Darke County to one year in prison for driving under the influence of alcohol and causing a fatal accident in 2002 that took the life of St. Henry resident Robert Good.
   But, Kevin Schmiesing, 22, 5668 Bensman Road, will remain free from prison until a court of appeals reviews his case at the request of his attorney. The review may take at least 90 days.
   Darke County Common Pleas Court Judge Jonathan P. Hein handed down the one-year prison sentence in a packed courtroom this morning in Greenville. Immediately after the sentencing, Schmiesing’s attorney Larry Denny of Dayton requested the sentence be stayed until the case is heard by the court of appeals, and the judge granted his request. Denny is appealing Hein’s earlier action to allow the state’s evidence in the case.
   In attendance in the courtroom were Good’s wife, Connie Good of St. Henry, her children and a dozen other family members and friends, who verbally protested the decision to suspend Schmiesing’s sentence.
   “I am not the victim in this case,” Connie Good said as Darke County Prosecutor Jesse Green tried to explain Hein’s decision. “If I had a DUI, they’d take my license in a heart beat. That little S.O.B. has been driving around and drinking for a year and half, why don’t we just let him kill someone else.”
   Schmiesing pleaded no contest in January to aggravated vehicular homicide, a third-degree felony.
   Schmiesing’s no contest plea Jan. 23 came following an agreement between his attorney and the prosecutor in which several other codeges filed against the Minster man were dismissed. The plea also negated a trial set to begin just three days later.
   Schmiesing faced a maximum of five years in prison for the third-degree felony codege.
   Before the sentencing this morning, a victim’s statement was read by Rob Good, the adult son of the deceased.
   He wrote, “I seen that Kevin has a Marine Corps coat. Knowing the Marine Corps teaches you how to kill with no remorse, he truly had learned how to kill with no remorse.”
   Rob Good asked the judge to suspend Schmiesing’s license for life. Instead, Hein ordered a three-year license suspension and ordered Schmiesing to pay court costs.
   Also in attendance at the sentencing were nearly two dozen family members and friends of Schmiesing, including his parents, David and Marceil Schmiesing of Minster, who sat at his side.
   Kevin Schmiesing spoke in court on his own behalf, a statement that was troubling to the Good family.
   “I never meant for any of it to happen,” he said. “I might have been partly responsible, but I’m not guilty.”
   Schmiesing’s father also spoke and stated his son was a good kid, adding that his son feels responsible, but he was not the driver at the time of the accident.
   “Kevin has never lied to us,” Dave Schmiesing said.
   Schmiesing was formerly in the U.S. Marine Corps, but was discodeged due to injuries he received from the accident. He is a 2000 Minster High School graduate and a current college student.
   Prior to the sentence, the judge said, “I have a concern this side of the room (as he pointed to Schmiesing’s friends and family) thinks he’s not guilty.”
   Hein continued, saying he doesn’t want to send someone to prison who has pleaded to something he states he did not do. But Hein then added, “this is not the best police work I ever seen in this case. I have no doubt you were the driver.”
   It was about 1:40 a.m. Sept. 21, 2002, when Schmiesing drove a pickup truck eastbound on Mercer-Darke County Line Road through a stop sign at Ohio 118, according to a state patrol report. The truck slammed into the sport utility vehicle driven north on Ohio 118 by Robert Good, the report stated.
   Test results showed Schmiesing had a blood-alcohol content of 0.153, over the legal limit at that time of 0.10.
   Following the accident, Schmiesing was indicted by a Darke County jury twice — the first time for Robert Good’s death and the second time for serious injuries suffered in the crash by his daughter, Amanda. In all, Schmiesing was indicted for two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, driving with a blood-alcohol concentration over the legal limit, driving under the influence and two counts of aggravated vehicular assault.
   Robert Good was pronounced dead at the scene; five others were injured including Schmiesing.
   Robert Good’s passengers included his daughter, Amanda, his son, Eric, and Eric’s friend, Rachel Meyers of Celina. Good was reportedly heading home from an Indiana airport and had just picked up his son who was returning from college for a brief visit with his family.
   Schmiesing’s sole passenger was David Starr, now 22, of New Bremen. Throughout the investigation into the crash and during a motion hearing in September, Schmiesing maintained Starr was at the wheel the night of the fatal accident. Schmiesing’s attorney attempted, earlier in the case, to bar several pieces of evidence and testimony to be presented by the prosecutor at trial, but Judge Hein ruled all evidence would be admitted.
   After the sentencing, Schmiesing was led away in handcuffs to be booked at the Darke County Jail, but was to be released immediately until a decision by the court of appeals.


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