MIAMI COUNTY — Prior to being sentenced to serve six years in prison, Eric Pellman, 41, of Sidney, apologized to the family of Phillip Smith, 33, of Troy, whom he killed in an automobile accident while driving under the influence of drugs last March.
On March 9, 2015, Pellman was the driver in a single-vehicle crash on southbound Interstate 75 which claimed the life of Smith and left Pellman and one other person with serious injuries.
Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Gee sentenced Pellman to serve a mandatory six years in prison for second-degree felony aggravated vehicular homicide. Judge Gee also ordered a lifetime driver’s license suspension for Pellman.Pellman was also sentenced to serve a six-month sentence for a misdemeanor OVI charge related to the incident, which will run concurrently. Pellman was also sentenced to serve mandatory three years of post-release control following his release. He received 113 days of jail credit and was fined $375 plus court costs.
“I’d like to apologize to the family for what happened and I’m really sorry that it did happen,” Pellman said. “Me and Barney, that’s what we called him, we were close friends. Now I have nightmares over and over again — at least two or three nights a week, but it’s something I’ll have to live with the rest of my life probably. All I can say is sorry and I know that’s not going to bring Phillip back.”
In previous court proceedings, Pellman entered a no contest plea as part of a plea agreement with the state. Pellman was found guilty by the court. Miami County assistant prosecutor Janna Parker asked for a sentence on the high end due to Pellman’s record, drug abuse and the loss of life in the case. Pellman faced up to 8 years in prison for the felony charge.
“Even after his reckless driving led to the killing of his friend, he was still was in possession of illegal drugs,” Parker said. “It would be the state’s position that all we can do is to work to protect others from the harm that was suffered on the victim’s behalf.”
Smith’s mother Shirley Mullin, of Sidney, told Pellman that she forgives him and that she and her family will pray for him.
“I just want you to know I forgive you and that I’ll be praying for you,” said Mullin prior to sentencing.
Mullin also thanked the court as well as the first responders who attended to her son at the scene of the accident.
Approximately 10 days after the accident, Pellman was arrested on drug charges at his Sidney residence during a drug raid. Pellman was charged with one count of possession of cocaine, one count of possession of heroin, and one count of possession of criminal tools in the incident.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews