Drug case of woman allegedly driving in Hamilton crash that killed 6-year-old goes to grand jury

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What to know about how the court process works in Butler County.

Misdemeanor counts dismissed as continuing investigation could result in more serious charges.

A woman who was allegedly driving a car that struck two young boys and killed one of them in Hamilton was in court Wednesday where a felony drug charge was sent to a grand jury for consideration.

Nolen Scott Jones, 6, of Hamilton, died of head injuries sustained when he was struck by a car while crossing Pleasant Avenue about 6:45 p.m. May 11. His 11-year-old brother, Logan Watson, was injured and is now home recovering.

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The driver of the vehicle, Elizabeth Ann Marie Mehl, 30, of Corwin Avenue in Hamilton, was originally charged with OVI and child endangering, both misdemeanors, and felony drug abuse. There were two children, ages 10 and 3, in the car at the time of the crash, according to the Hamilton police.

Elizabeth Ann Marie Mehl, 30, appeared in Hamilton Municipal court Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Mehl was allegedly driving a car that struck two young boys and killed one of them in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Elizabeth Ann Marie Mehl, 30, appeared in Hamilton Municipal court Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Mehl was allegedly driving a car that struck two young boys and killed one of them in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Hortencia Garcia, 26, charged with tampering with evidence, appeared in Hamilton Municipal court Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Garcia allegedly took cash from the car Mehl was allegedly driving a car that struck two young boys and killed one of them on Pleasant Ave. in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Hortencia Garcia, 26, charged with tampering with evidence, appeared in Hamilton Municipal court Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Garcia allegedly took cash from the car Mehl was allegedly driving a car that struck two young boys and killed one of them on Pleasant Ave. in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

At the request of the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office, the misdemeanor charges were dismissed in Hamilton Municipal Court to avoid possible double jeopardy issues because the continuing crash investigation could result in more serious charges at the common pleas court level.

Mehl, who is free on $70,000 bond, was in municipal court Wednesday where Judge Dan Gattermeyer found sufficient evidence to bind the drug abuse charge over to grand jury.

Nolen Scott Jones, in front, with brother, Logan Watson SUBMITTED
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Nolen Scott Jones, in front, with brother, Logan Watson SUBMITTED

During a preliminary hearing, Hamilton Officer Josh Crowthers testified Mehl was “visibly upset” when he saw her sitting on the sidewalk near the crash site at Pleasant and Symmes Avenue.

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“I didn’t see her right away,” Crowthers testified. He said he ran toward screaming at the scene and saw a little boy in the street.

“The boy said his leg hurt. He was talking on the phone. Then he said his brother was up the street, when I turned around I saw the little boy, Nolen, laying on his back in the street. I ran towards him, there was a man doing CPR.”

The officer said he took over the life saving duties for a few seconds before the EMS squad arrived.

“That’s when I saw Ms. Mehl sitting in the south bound lane on the sidewalk,” Crowthers said. He tried to get her to calm down and provide identification.

Officers searched the car and a cellophane baggie containing nine pills was found. Mehl told officers the pills were Percocet and that she would fail a drug test.

The case of a second woman at the crash scene charged with tampering with evidence was also part of the preliminary hearing.

Hortencia Garcia, 26, was charged with tampering with evidence, a felony, for retrieving a “wad” of cash from Mehl’s car and stuffing it in her bra. Garcia stopped at the scene because she said she knew Mehl.

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Crowthers testified Garcia first retrieved Mehl’s purse from the car so that police could identify her. She later took a small purse containing more that $1,000 out of the car and concealed it in her bra, the officer said.

Garcia’s case was also sent to the grand jury for consideration. She remains housed in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $30,000 bond.

A 6-year-old child was hit and killed Tuesday evening while crossing Pleasant Avenue in Hamilton's Lindenwald neighborhood NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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A 6-year-old child was hit and killed Tuesday evening while crossing Pleasant Avenue in Hamilton's Lindenwald neighborhood NICK GRAHAM/STAFF