July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Sentencing postponed in man’s vehicular homicide case

MEDINA — A West Salem man who was set to be sentenced to prison Thursday for reportedly killing a Spencer man in a drunken driving accident asked to withdraw his plea moments before his hearing.

Jason Casey, 26, pleaded no contest in December to aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony. The charge carries a mandatory prison sentence.

Several family members of Danny Saffle, who was killed in the June accident, assembled for the sentencing and were prepared to read a statement.

When Casey arrived at court, he told his lawyer, Timothy J. Kucharski, he wanted to take back his plea.

“As of yesterday, he was prepared. I think he’s a young man that’s terrified. He’s terrified of confronting the Saffle family,” Kucharski said.

A hearing will be set to evaluate Casey’s request. Prosecutors will be able to object to the plea withdrawal.

“We intend to be very aggressive in our stance that his motion should be denied,” Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman said. “I look forward to addressing this in court. It’s too bad the victim’s family has to be put through the delay.”

The Ohio Highway Patrol reported Casey was drunk and driving his 1997 Ford Ranger south on state Route 83 in Litchfield Township at 5:07 a.m. June 16. He apparently went left of center and struck the 2001 Mercury Villager driven by Saffle, 60, head-on.

According to the Patrol report, Casey did not take any evasive action or try to slow down. Both men were driving about 55 mph, the posted speed limit.

Saffle was on his way to work at the time of the accident.

Tests later showed Casey had a blood-alcohol level over Ohio’s limit of 0.08 percent, the Patrol reported.

After Thursday’s hearing, Casey was taken to the Medina County Jail.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.