SIDNEY – Judge James Stevenson quickly brushed aside apologies and finger-pointing in handing down the maximum allowable three-year prison sentence for Kayla Hewitt, of Sidney, for her involvement in a man’s drug-related death.
On Tuesday, the 33-year-old Hewitt was sentenced on one count of reckless homicide, a third-degree felony, in Shelby County Common Pleas Court. Following the court session, she was remanded to the custody of the county sheriff for transport to the Marysville Reformatory for Women of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
On Jan. 26, Hewitt pleaded guilty to an amended charge of reckless homicide in the drug overdose death of David Lee Slagle on Aug. 5 through a plea agreement. Shelby County Prosecutor Tim Sell said in exchange for the guilty plea a myriad of charges spread throughout three cases pending against Hewitt were dropped.
On Tuesday, standing next to her attorney Ralph Bauer, of Sidney, Hewitt apologized to the victim’s family blaming her problems on continued drug abuse. She said has been drug-free since being released on bond.
She told Stevenson that she had been to prison three times, all on drug-related offenses, and she was hoping to receive counseling to turn her life around.
Bauer said Hewitt has gone to prison before and has had no opportunity to obtain counseling. He claimed she has had a serious drug and alcohol problem and that she was “sincerely remorseful and crying out for help.”
He claimed Hewitt was highly sorrowful for the young girl who discovered Slagle dead in a bathtub.
A prepared statement from the mother of Slagle’s son, who turns 7 years old today, was read to the court by Sue Metz of Shelby County Victim Services.
The statement spoke about of the impact the death has had on the victim’s son. Not having a father at future birthdays, sports events and graduation is what they were facing due to Hewitt’s actions.
The letter stated Hewitt sold the drugs to Slagle knowing the potential danger. The fact she was arrested selling drugs just two days after Slagle’s death, and the fact she absconded from the area following her grand jury indictment, indicates the type of person she is.
Sell said Hewitt has a lengthy drug-related criminal record. He noted she nearly died of a drug overdose in February and has had several opportunities to “turn her life around and never did.”
Judge indicates past actions factor into sentence
Stevenson reminded Hewitt she has seven felony convictions on her record. And spoke of her past attempts for help.
“I’m surprised to hear your counsel (Bauer) say you have never had an opportunity for rehabilitation,” the judge said. He pointed out two opportunities in Montgomery County cases and she has failed local community control guidelines.
“You’ve had numerous chances to turn your life around if you wanted to do so. So, I agree with the prosecution that a maximum sentence is appropriate in this case,” he added.
Stevenson also told Hewitt she should commend her attorney for negotiating a plea agreement in the case. The first-degree felony would have carried a harsher punishment.
In January, Sell explained that involuntary manslaughter is when a person’s criminal act leads to the death of another. He added that reckless homicide is when a person’s behavior causes the death of another.
In this case, Hewitt’s sale of the drugs to Slagle was the crime, Sell said.
Earlier this month, Stevenson had refused a motion to give Hewitt additional family time before going to prison.
On March 1, Hewitt asked the court to reschedule her sentencing until March 27, so she could arrange for her daughter to have time to get accustomed to being with her grandmother, who will be caring for her. Court records indicate the grandmother was taking vacation time scheduled off work for two weeks beginning today.
When Hewitt changed her plea, she claimed Slagle was unknown to her. She stated she met him in “another town” when Slagle told her he was traveling through Ohio trying to get to North Carolina. She gave him a ride to Sidney.
Hewitt claimed Slagle first gave her drugs, but she gave him some back. She acknowledged that it was the drugs she gave back that led to his death a few hours later.
On Nov. 16, the Shelby County grand jury indicted Hewitt. When she failed to appear for a court appearance, and authorities were unable to locate her, a warrant was issued for her arrest. On Dec. 17, Sidney Police arrested Hewitt, who was considered on the run from prosecution.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.
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