33-year-old Paul Grove Jr. was found guilty Thursday of vehicular homicide, OVI, and vehicular assault for his role in the 2017 crash that killed Jeanene Indermill and seriously injured Matt Indermill and Mark Preston. (Tusco TV)
NEW PHILADELPHIA (Tusco TV) - The trial for a former Baltic man charged for a 2017 crash that killed a 54-year-old Jeanene Indermill and seriously injured two others is coming to a close with a Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court jury finding him guilty on all charges.
Jurors spent less than an hour deliberating Thursday before handing down five guilty verdicts against 33-year-old Paul Grove Jr. on counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, OVI, and aggravated vehicular assault.
Grove was accused of driving his SUV into two motorcycles on Crooked Run Road June 24th after he had been drinking. His attorney, Amanda Spies, argued that Grove was not impaired by the six beers he drank before the accident.
"For him, that basically meant nothing. He was not intoxicated. He was able to function normally because he was a normal functioning alcoholic. Those sorts of people you may know. They may be your neighbors. They may go to church with you. They may work with you. They are in our community," she said.
The verdicts came back hours after jurors heard testimony from the two men who were driving the motorcycles, Mark Preston and Jeanene’s husband, Matthew Indermill. Preston described watching the SUV go off the side of the road, overcorrect, and barrel towards them.
"As he came around the corner, he went into the ditch and hit some pea gravel type, went down into the grass a little bit, then came back up. As he came back up, he overcorrected and began to slide sideways and sort of swept the road. He was sideways going down the road with his vehicle, and that’s when he hit Matt and Jeanene," he said.
Spies in her closing statement argued the men driving the motorcycles were responsible for what happened.
"A reasonable person would have stopped as far away as possible, possibly turned around to get away from what may happen but you sure as heck would not continue toward the danger," she said.
Assistant County Prosecutor Amanda Miller said the blame lies solely on Grove.
"Mark Preston didn’t do anything wrong. Matthew Indermill didn’t do anything wrong. Jeanene Indermill didn’t do anything wrong. Paul Grove was barrelling down drunkenly county road 52, Crooked Run Road at 80 miles an hour, very possibly drinking the Bush beer that was still cold in the koozie in the aftermath of the accident," she said.
The evidence presented by the state included Ohio State Highway Patrol photographs of the accident scene showing an open 30-pack of Bush Light in Grove’s SUV, empty cans on the floor, and an open beer on the backseat in a cozy. Miller said the jury’s verdict comes as no surprise because of the strength of that evidence.
"The evidence in this case was really overwhelming, and I’m really happy we were able to present that in a way that the jury felt the same way," she said.
Judge Elizabeth Thomakos sentenced Grove last year to 18 years in prison after he pled guilty for his role in the accident, but an appeals court later overturned his conviction. Miller says 18 years is the maximum prison term the judge could impose when she sentences him again tomorrow morning.