February 24, 2024

Halfhill Sentenced to 16-20 Years in Prison for Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, OVI

POMEROY, Ohio – A Pomeroy man has been sentenced for causing a crash resulting in the death of two others.

According to Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney James K. Stanley, on June 2, 2020, Austin Halfhill, 23, of Pomeroy, Ohio was sentenced to 16 to 20 years in prison for two counts of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, each a felony of the first degree, and one count of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence, a misdemeanor of the first degree.

On August 4, 2019, Halfhill drove his Nissan Altima left of center on State Route 7 near Chester, Ohio, and crashed into a motorcycle being operated by John McElfresh of Glouster, Ohio.  Brenda Suttle, also of Glouster, Ohio, was a passenger on the motorcycle.  Both McElfresh and Suttle died from their injuries at the scene.  Halfhill presented with indications of being under the influence of a control substance after the crash and admitted to using methamphetamine and buprenorphine before the crash.  A subsequent urine analysis indicated the presence of methamphetamine, amphetamine, and buprenorphine in Halfhill’s system at the time of the crash.  Halfhill also operated his motor vehicle with a suspended license.

Prosecutor Stanley argued for the maximum sentence of twenty-two to twenty-seven-and-a-half years in prison based upon the circumstances of the crash, Halfhill’s criminal history, and a number of other factors.  Individuals representing the victims’ families also requested the maximum sentence.  Halfhill requested a sentence less than the maximum.

Meigs County Court of Common Pleas Judge Linda R. Warner sentenced Halfhill to a minimum sentence of eight years in prison on each count of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide to be served consecutive to each other for a total minimum sentence of 16 years and an indefinite sentence of four years in prison that could be served following the completion of the minimum sentence.  Halfhill received the maximum sentence of 180 days in jail for Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence, which was ordered to be served concurrent to the prison sentence as required by law.  Halfhill received a lifetime driver license suspension and will be on post-release control for five years upon release from prison.  Halfhill remains in the custody of the Meigs County Sheriff while awaiting transportation to prison.

“While the sentence was not the desired outcome of the State or of the victims’ families, there is some sense of peace with resolution and a degree of justice for the victims,” Stanley said.  “My prayers continue to be with John and Brenda’s families.”

The Ohio State Highway Patrol investigated this matter, and the Chester Volunteer Fire Department, Meigs EMS, and the Meigs County Coroner’s Office, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources assisted at the scene.

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