Guilty plea in aggravated vehicular homicide case


By Sarah Hawley - shawley@aimmediamidwest.com



Austin Halfhill talks with attorney Michael Huff during a previous hearing in Meigs County Common Pleas Court.

Austin Halfhill talks with attorney Michael Huff during a previous hearing in Meigs County Common Pleas Court.


File photo

POMEROY — A Pomeroy man pleaded guilty on Wednesday afternoon to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide following the death of two people in a crash last summer.

Austin R. Halfhill, 23, of Pomeroy pleaded guilty to two first-degree felony charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, as well as a first-degree misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle under the influence.

In pleading guilty, Halfhill admitted to being the driver of a vehicle which went left of center and struck a motorcycle driven by John McElfresh, 62, of Glouster on Aug. 4 on State Route 7 near Chester. McElfresh was killed in the crash, as was passenger Brenda Suttle, 59, of Crooksville.

Halfhill was driving with a suspended license at the time of the crash, as well as being under the influence of methamphetamine and amphetamines, according to statements by Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Adkins in court.

Halfhill was originally indicted in September 2019 on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, felonies of the first degree; two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, felonies of the second degree; two counts of vehicular manslaughter, misdemeanors of the first degree; and three counts of operating a vehicle while under the influence, misdemeanors of the first degree.

In pleading guilty to the most serious of the charges, the state agreed to dismiss the remaining six charges against Halfhill.

The prosecution and defense did not make a joint sentencing recommendation to Judge Linda Warner, but will argue sentencing at a hearing scheduled for April 8.

Halfhill faces a prison sentence of up to 22 to 33 years in prison when sentenced. Any sentence handed down in the case would be mandatory. Additionally, he will be subject to a lifetime driver’s license suspension.

For the hearing on Wednesday, the state was represented by Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Adkins, with Halfhill represented by attorney Michael Huff.

Victim Assistance Director Theda Petrasko submitted the victim impact statements completed by the McElfresh and Suttle families to Judge Warner, asking that four of the statements be read prior to the sentencing taking place. Many of the family members were present in the courtroom for Wednesday’s hearing.

Halfhill remains in the custody of the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office as he awaits sentencing.

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Austin Halfhill talks with attorney Michael Huff during a previous hearing in Meigs County Common Pleas Court.
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2020/02/web1_9.12-Halfhill.jpgAustin Halfhill talks with attorney Michael Huff during a previous hearing in Meigs County Common Pleas Court. File photo

By Sarah Hawley

shawley@aimmediamidwest.com

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.