Two court trials held for speeding tickets in Hillsboro Municipal Court on Thursday ended in guilty verdicts.
Margaret Hess, 66, Hillsboro, appeared on one of the minor misdemeanor charges.
The trial began with prosecutor Fred Beery calling Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Todd Stevens as a witness.
The incident involved two vehicles, the second of which was Hess’, Stevens said. He told the court that he visually assessed the lead vehicle as going between 65 and 70 mph. The second car, he added, was following close behind the first.
He said that both vehicles registered at 68 mph on his radar. Stevens also said that the distance between the two cars and the frequency on the radar did not change. When asked, he said the radar had been calibrated both before and after the traffic stop.
According to Stevens, the incident occurred on U.S. Route 62, near Juillerat and Griffith roads.
During Hess’ questioning, she showed Stevens pictures of that area. In those, Stevens identified a curve in the road. When asked, he said he had checked the vehicles’ speeds when they were traveling straight, not when they were at the curve.
Hess then provided testimony. She said she mapped the area and that the vehicle ahead of her had hit its breaks near the curve and that she slowed down then. She added that because she must shift her vehicle manually, she was driving at a speed that was comfortable to her. Hess also said that she made a comment concerning the other vehicle’s speed at the time of the incident.
Hess then told the court that she had been driving a sports car and felt that the officer had given her a citation based on that. She added that her last citation was over 30 years ago.
“I hope the court will find this an unjust citation,” she said.
Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David H. McKenna said that based on the trooper’s testimony, “The radar gun couldn’t distinguish between the two of you,” due to the cars being “so close.”
He added that radar is recognized by the state of Ohio as an accurate way to measure speed.
Hess then told the judge that the trooper needed to turn around to issue the citation. The judge said that by the time the trooper turned around, “all the stuff he’d testified about had already happened,” including the radar measure and his observation of speeding.
McKenna then told Hess, “You have a wonderful driving record.”
Beery told the court that the state “consider(s) this incident … an educational experience.”
Hess was not fined, but she must pay court costs.
In other cases, Clifford Vasko, 47, Centerville, also appeared on a charge of speeding.
The state called Leesburg Police Department Officer Roy Stevens as a witness.
During questioning, Stevens said that he initiated a traffic stop last month on West Main Street when he observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. He added that radar measured the speed at 48 mph in a 35 mph area.
When asked, Stevens said those events all happened within the village of Leesburg.
The defendant did not have any questions for the witness.
During his testimony, Vasko said that his license is from California, where he has been living and that he is originally from Ohio. Vasko said that during the incident he decelerated from 55 mph to 35 mph when he saw a sign for that speed.
He added that he has since learned that under Ohio law the speed limit is 35 mph within municipality corporation limits. Vasko said he had been relying only on the signs.
He told the court that he has a “clean record.” Vasko added, “In the spirit of justice, I made a mistake that I didn’t know was a mistake at the time.
The judge told Vasko that he did not seem to understand the role of a trial.
“A trial is for me to determine facts, and only facts,” McKenna said, adding that it “doesn’t have anything to with ‘the spirit of the justice.’”
He said the undisputed facts presented on Thursday were that Vasko was traveling over 35 mph within the corporation limits of Leesburg.
“I understand that you have may have a different perception,” the judge said, due to Vasko’s experience in California. However, in Ohio, “If you’re in the village, you’re expected to know,” McKenna said.
He added that Vasko did not “have any record in Ohio that I’m aware of … but I think there is a minor misconception” of Ohio’s speeding law.” The judge also told Vasko, “I understand the sincerity of your presentation.”
Vasko will have to pay court costs. He was not fined.
Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.