July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Trial delayed for W. Virginia man, 20, accused in crash death

MEDINA — The trial of a West Virginia man accused of fatally injuring a Lodi motorcyclist last year has been postponed until next month.

Andrew J. Lester, 20, of Crab Orchard, is accused of fleeing from police with his teenage girlfriend after hitting motorcyclist Michael Newman, 36, with a stolen Ford pickup in August.

Andrew Lester

Newman was released from the hospital but died in October. Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman said in January the autopsy showed Newman’s injuries from the crash were to blame.

Lester is charged with involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony; vehicular homicide, a fourth-degree felony; two counts of failing to stop after a crash, third- and fifth-degree felonies; and two counts of receiving stolen license plates, fourth- and fifth-degree felonies.

Lester’s trial was scheduled to begin this week, but was delayed until July 15 after his attorney, Paul Grant, filed a motion for continuance.

Lester’s grandmother, Joann Lester, 67, said the charges came as a surprise to her and her family.

“He’s such a good kid,” she said via telephone from West Virginia. “Why he did this, we’ll never know.”

The grandmother said this is the first time her grandson has been in any sort of trouble, but that he was deeply affected by his parents’ divorce four years ago.

“Everyone’s saying maybe this happened for the best,” she said. “Now he can see the error in his ways and change.”

The grandmother said Lester was missing for about two weeks before police arrested him in Medina.

She said the last time she and her husband visited Lester at the county jail, where he is being held on $700,000 bond, he told them he’d been reading the Bible and knows he did wrong.

“He made a mistake, a terrible mistake,” Joann Lester said. “Those things you hear about every day — it happens to good kids, too. We pray every day for Andrew.”

Lester already has pleaded guilty to lesser charges stemming from the crash: one count of receiving a stolen vehicle, a fourth-degree felony; three counts of receiving stolen checks, fifth-degree felonies; failure to stop after an accident, a fifth-degree felony; and interference with custody, a fifth-degree felony.

On June 4, Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier sentenced Lester to five years probation and 180 days in jail on the lesser charges.

If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Lester could face up to 21 years in prison, plus punishments for violating probation.

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.