A Summit County judge issued a written decision Thursday that denies a motion to grant driving privileges to an Akron woman who pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and DUI in a 2005 fatal crash in the Merriman Valley.
The crash claimed the life of Jacqueline “Jackie” Bryan, 21, of Akron.
Molly Wagner, who was 22 at the time, was the driver. She was sentenced to five years of probation and a lifetime suspension of her driver’s license under a plea agreement approved by the court and the victim’s family.
On July 18, Common Pleas Judge Amy Corrigall Jones held a lengthy hearing — at times emotionally charged as the victim’s family members addressed the court in opposition to the motion — to hear from both sides. She then took the matter under advisement and, after reviewing the case record for the past seven weeks, filed a one-page written decision Thursday afternoon in the county clerk’s office.
Jones commented only briefly in her ruling, saying: “This court, having considered all information presented at the hearing, including the statements of counsel and the current totality of the circumstances, finds defendant’s motion for driving privileges not well taken and accordingly ... is hereby denied.”
John Bryan, the father of the victim, said he and his family were relieved when they heard the news of the decision.
“Even though we have to live with this terrible tragedy for the rest of our lives, my family and I are relieved that this part of it is now behind us and, hopefully, we won’t have to face this ever again,” he said.
Wagner, whose married name is Molly Wagner Farmer, is working in downstate Ohio. Her husband, family members and friends drive her to her job, attorney Carmen Roberto said in an interview by telephone after the decision.
Roberto said he intends to file a motion in Jones’ court, possibly as early as next week, for reconsideration of driving privileges.
“To say that I’m disappointed, which lawyers oft times say, would be an understatement. I’m extremely disappointed by the ruling for a number of reasons,” Roberto said.
On May 24, Jones granted a previously filed defense motion for limited driving privileges for Farmer: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with an additional order for an ignition-activated Breathalyzer to be installed in her vehicle.
But shortly after that ruling, Roberto said, prosecutors contacted Jones and asked for a hearing in open court on the matter. The judge agreed and heard oral arguments from both sides in July.
Jones pointed out in the July 18 hearing that she reviewed every facet of the case and found that Farmer had an “ideal” record throughout her probationary period.
Roberto said his position was “not meant to demean the victim in this case.”
“I am the parent of one daughter, whom I’ve raised since age 5, so I understand the feelings that the Bryans have,” Roberto said.
“But I still feel that Molly was entitled to get some driving privileges here,” he said.
There is no option, under terms of the guilty plea eight years ago, to take the matter to an appeals court, Roberto said.
Under Ohio law, even under a lifetime license suspension, a defendant who successfully completes probation and maintains a clean record thereafter has the right to petition the trial court for driving privileges 15 years after imposition of the lifetime ban.
Summit County prosecutors told Jones in July that the defense request for driving privileges was premature because only about seven years had passed since her sentence was imposed.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 3300-996-3784 or email@example.com.