Prosecutor: Some charges dismissed in Hamilton crash that killed 6-year-old

A Hamilton woman who was allegedly driving a car that struck two young boys and killed one of them in Hamilton this week is free on bond, and several initial charges have been dismissed at the request of the county prosecutor.

Credit: Butler County Jail

Credit: Butler County Jail

The charges were not dismissed because of evidence issues, according to prosecutors, but because of the continuing investigation that could end with more charges and to avoid the possibility of double jeopardy.

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. Tuesday. His 11-year-old brother, Logan Watson, was injured and is now home recovering.

The driver of the vehicle, Elizabeth Ann Marie Mehl, 30, of Corwin Avenue in Hamilton, was 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.

Mehl was sitting on the sidewalk when officers arrived at the scene and appeared to be under the influence of a narcotic, according to the police report. A baggie containing pills was found in the crack of the seat where one of the children had been sitting, according to the police report.

At the police station, Mehl told officers the pills were Percocet. After failing a field sobriety test, Mehl was arrested.

Mehl was arraigned Wednesday morning in Hamilton Municipal Court, where bond was set at $75,000. But that afternoon, at the request of Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser, all the misdemeanor charges, including the OVI, were dismissed.

In a letter to the Hamilton Municipal Court prosecutor, Gmoser said Hamilton police have an ongoing investigation that could lead to an aggravated vehicular homicide charge as well as other charges.

“Our office has grave concerns over any plea (to the misdemeanor charges) that could affect the ability of our office to pursue additional, more serious charges stemming from Elizabeth Mehl’s operation of a vehicle,” Gmoser said in the letter.

Gmoser said that if Mehl pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in municipal court, that element of an alleged crime could not be used as an aggravated circumstance for a felony charge of aggravated vehicular homicide.

The doesn’t mean the OVI charge will disappear or won’t be considered, but “it means that I don’t want to do that now and give her an opportunity to plead guilty to it in the municipal court were I don’t have jurisdiction,” Gmoser said.

An attorney could advise Mehl to plead guilty to the misdemeanor OVI charge, and the county prosecutor would be barred from presenting evidence of that impaired driving to support a possible aggravated vehicular homicide charge.

Mehl is scheduled to be back May 19 in Hamilton Municipal Court for a preliminary hearing on the drug abuse charge, a fifth-degree felony. If Judge Dan Gattermeyer finds sufficient evidence, the case will be bound over to a grand jury for consideration. But there will be no chance Mehl can plead guilty to the misdemeanor charges, because they have been dismissed.

Mehl posted bond about 2 p.m. Wednesday. She was fitted with GPS and alcohol monitor.

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