MIAMI COUNTY — A Dayton man who stole a car and fled from police in a three-county chase was sentenced in Miami County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday.
James Harper, 33, of Dayton, was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison for third-degree felony failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer.
The incident occurred on Oct. 17, 2019.
According to reports, an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper pulled Harper over on State Route 67 for speeding at 90 miles per hour. The trooper approached the vehicle and requested Harper roll down the window for his license. Harper then fled the scene southbound on Interstate 75. The pursuit went through Auglaize, Shelby and Miami counties before Harper’s vehicle was disabled by the use of stop sticks. Harper then fled on foot and was quickly apprehended.
Harper entered a plea of guilty to the felony and first-degree misdemeanor OVI by bill of information and waived his right to a pre-sentence investigation last month. He will also serve three years of mandatory post-release control. His license was suspended for three years. For the OVI charge, he was ordered to serve 60 days in jail, concurrent with his 30 month sentence. He was also fined $375 and had six points assessed to his record.
In exchange for his guilty plea, the state dismissed falsification, weapons under disability and improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle. A loaded gun, with a chambered bullet, was located in the vehicle. Harper claimed he was unaware the gun was in the stolen SUV.
Harper apologized to the court for his actions, claiming he was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the incident.
“I’ve been fighting methamphetamine for a long time … it’s been a long, rough battle,” Harper said.
Harper claimed he had never sought treatment for the addiction, but said he planned on enrolling in programs in prison and hoped to continue treatment programs upon his release.
Harper said it will be the fourth time he has been to prison.
“I’ve been homeless for the last seven, eight years. Every time I get out of prison I’m in a bigger hole than when I’ve left,” Harper said.
Judge Stacy Wall said Harper needed to apologize to the trooper, the public and the person he stole the vehicle from. Wall said the woman who owned the 2009 Ford Flex was in the hospital at the time of the incident and the car was a total loss. Wall granted the victim $376 in restitution for the insurance deductible.
“You need to apologize to everybody you put at risk,” Wall said.
After his sentencing, Wall said Harper knew what programs were available in prison. She said if Harper was truly sincere in wanting to address his drug addiction, he would seek treatment during his incarceration.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org
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