Lewis pleads to aggravated vehicular homicide

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

In May, Elizabeth Lewis, of Waterloo, lost her life in a car accident. Wednesday, her husband sat before a judge and admitted he was responsible for his wife’s death.

Donald L. Lewis, 38, of 1850 County Road 48, will be sentenced Nov. 7 for one count of aggravated vehicular homicide. Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Charles Cooper has ordered a pre-sentence evaluation.

“This man has six prior DUIs. He has no license. He was driving without a license at the time of the accident and he tested four times over the legal limit,” Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr., said. “I’m certain the court will take this seriously and carefully. I hope this sends a message.”

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In another case Wednesday, Cooper admonished a Kitts Hill woman to stay away from her alleged victim and his family until her case is resolved.

Melissa Bare, 36, of 1344 County Road 105, is charged with two counts of sexual battery involving a student at Rock Hill Middle School, where she is on leave from teaching duties. Collier told Cooper that Bare recently ran into the mother of that student at a football game and spoke to her.

“A condition of her bond is not to go around the victim or his family,” Collier said.

Her attorney, Derick Fisher, indicated Bare did not know who the victim’s mother was at the time of the incident.

“They know each other now,” Fisher said. “She is going to stay completely away. She understands the seriousness of the situation.”

Cooper told Bare “no contact means no contact.”

“As soon as you realize you inadvertently have come into contact you need to withdraw — no words, no staring, no gestures. You withdraw.”

In yet another case Wednesday, two women accused in a murder-for-hire scheme were arraigned.

Valerie Mantle, 37, of 722 Vernon St., pleaded not guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit murder and felonious assault through Fisher, who is also her attorney.

Collier asked Cooper to continue a $250,000 bond set in Ironton Municipal Court, given “the serious nature of the charges against Ms. Mantle and the compelling case we have.”

But Fisher argued that a “fair and reasonable bond” since his client is a 10-year resident of the county and has no prior criminal convictions.

In the end, Cooper continued the lower court’s bond.

Valerie Mantle’s mother, Barbara Mantle, also pleaded not guilty through her attorney, Warren Morford, who said his client contends the victim, Joseph A., Cox, had been harassing her before her arrest.

“This case has taken a unique twist,” Morford said. “My client was the victim of telephone harassment and vandalism at the hands of Joseph Cox,” Morford said. He said after the arraignment that Barbara Mantle had complained to Ironton Police about Cox’s alleged misdeeds.

As in the case of her daughter, Barbara Mantle pleaded not guilty and the $250,000 bond set in municipal court was continued. Both women remain in the Lawrence County Jail.