Skyler Ludington, 18, was killed on Thanksgiving night while walking on this stretch of road near his father’s home in Warren County. Staff photo by Lawrence Budd
Photo: Lawrence Budd
Photo: Lawrence Budd

Centerville man acquitted in Thanksgiving 2017 fatal crash

On Friday, a jury found Robert Pietrantonio, 56, of Centerville, not guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular homicide, failure to stop after an accident and driving while under the influence, concluding a five-day trial in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

Skyler P. Ludington, 18, of Botkins in Shelby County, was hit by Pietrantonio’s work truck while walking along West Lytle-Five Points Road, on Nov. 23, 2017, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

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While avoiding criminal conviction, defense lawyer John D. Smith said Pietrantonio would live with the fatal outcome the rest of his life.

“You can’t go through what he has gone through and not have it change you for the rest of your life,” Smith said Monday. “He’ll struggle with this for the rest of his life.”

Pietrantonio was fired from his job after his indictment, according to Smith.

The jury deliberated about five hours before finding Pietrantonio not guilty on all four counts.

“We knew Pietrantonio would be a challenging criminal case from the outset. I’m very proud of the case my prosecutors presented, and the jury had a difficult task,” Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said in response to a request for comment.

RELATED: 18-year-old pedestrian killed in Warren County; driver thought deer hit

“The victim’s family was very grateful for our efforts, and they were able to hold Pietrantonio civilly liable for the victim’s death through settlement,” Fornshell said.

A settlement of a civil case also was filed following Ludington’s death.

When he was hit, Ludington was less than a mile from his father’s home, while visiting over the holiday.

Witnesses reportedly told troopers that Pietrantonio stopped after the crash but left when he learned police had been called, according to the crash report.

Pietrantonio was found at his home nearby, off Yankee Road, but no charges were filed until his indictment in July 2018.

“Originally, as there is a tendency to do, there was a complete exaggeration of the role of alcohol,” Smith said. “It played no role.”

RELATED: Centerville man wants teen crash victim’s medical records

Lawyers on both sides of the criminal case battled in pre-trial motions. Smith and co-counsel Mark Webb also pressed Ludington’s estate for his medical records.

In a motion for the records, filed on Dec. 5, 2018, Pietrantonio’s lawyers said, “There is independent witness testimony from up to four sources that the decedent failed to move or take any evasive action while walking within the road facing away from traffic at approximately 10:30 p.m. in the evening on Nov. 23, 2017. All witnesses reported he was difficult to see, made no attempt to get out of the way or react to the other drivers. All four had to go left of center to go around him, and one witness commented he initially looked like a deer.”

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