Man who fired gun at train sentenced

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 26, 2008

He admitted he shot at a passing train while he was intoxicated — and that he didn’t show up in court to be sentenced for those crimes.

Those two infractions netted an Ironton man a two-year prison sentence Wednesday.

Lowell Ratliff, 27, of 1486 County Road 21, appeared before Judge Charles Cooper in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court. Ratliff had pleaded guilty May 21 to improperly discharging a firearm and using a firearm while intoxicated and he was supposed to have returned to court May 28 to be sentenced on those charges. He didn’t.

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Now he will spend more time in prison than he would have if he had done what he was supposed to do.

“We have not charged him with a separate offense,” Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Mack Anderson said. “He did ultimately turn himself in. His grandmother had died and that is the reason he gave for not turning himself in. Originally we were going to recommend a one-year sentence on count one and six months on count two, to be run concurrently. But because he failed to appear, we’re going to recommend a greater sentence.”

Ohio law allows authorities to file escape charges on convicts who fail to report to prison after being given a furlough following their convictions or guilty pleas.

Any prison time handed out for escape charges is served consecutively to, not concurrently with, any other prison terms.

Anderson pointed out that Ratliff had previously spent time in prison for burglary.

Ratliff asked Cooper if he would be given credit for time spent in jail awaiting resolution of his case.

While Ratliff did get such credit, he also got a short lecture from the judge.

“This was an extremely serious incident,” Cooper told Ratliff. “Discharging a firearm at a passing train and in the direction of neighboring U.S. 52 is an extremely hazardous offense. This could have gotten you more time.”

Charges are pending against two other men charged in connection with that incident, Vincent Arthur, 24, of 1726 Phillips St., Ironton, and Urian Benicker, 24, of 516 Hecla St. Ironton.