July 24, 2016

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W. Virgina man, 20, pleads not guilty to August fatal in Lodi

MEDINA — A West Virginia man accused of crashing a stolen truck into a motorcyclist in August, fatally injuring the rider, pleaded not guilty Monday.

Andrew J. Lester, 20, of Crab Orchard, W.Va., is charged with involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony; two counts of failing to stop after an accident, third- and fifth-degree felonies; and vehicular homicide, a fourth-degree felony.

Andrew Lester

Lester also is accused of receiving a stolen vehicle and license plates, fourth- and fifth-degree felonies.

If convicted, he could face more than 20 years in prison.

According to a Medina police report, Lester crashed a stolen Ford pickup into a Harley-Davidson motorcycle operated by Michael Newman, 36, of Lodi, about 9 p.m. Aug. 18 at 830 Lafayette Road.

County Prosecutor Dean Holman said Newman was taken to a hospital, where he was treated and released some time later. He died in October. Holman said an autopsy indicated Newman’s death was a result of injuries from the crash.

Lester fled to nearby woods with a girl, who was traveling with him, where he was arrested, reports said.

Lester initially was not charged with injuring Newman — only for failing to stop after a crash and receiving stolen property.

In September, a grand jury indicted him on a fourth-degree felony charge of receiving a stolen motor vehicle and five fifth-degree felony charges: three counts of receiving stolen checks, one count of failing to stop after an accident and one count of interfering with police custody.

In December, the prosecutor’s office dropped charges of receiving a stolen vehicle and failing to stop. Lester pleaded guilty to the remaining charges and awaits sentencing Jan. 28, which could result in a maximum of four years in prison.

Three days after Lester’s guilty plea, a grand jury issued a new indictment, charging Lester with involuntary manslaughter and vehicular homicide. The indictment included the charges that had been dropped, among others.

Lester is being held in the county jail on a $200,000 bond.

He is set to appear before Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier on March 13.

A dispatcher at the Medina post of the Ohio Highway Patrol said Newman’s death is not listed among roadway fatalities because it occurred more than 30 days after the crash.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.

Nick Glunt About Nick Glunt

Nick Glunt primarily covers courts and crime in Medina County. He served The Gazette from September 2012 to December 2015. Contact him at (330) 721-4048 or via email at nglunt@medina-gazette.com.