COLUMBUS: The father of an Ohio fifth-grade teacher killed in a drunken driving crash is lamenting that the case didn’t get the same attention as a similar one involving a YouTube confession.
In a nearly empty courtroom on Monday in Columbus, 51-year-old Clarence Dickerson pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide as part of a plea deal. A test showed his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit when he caused the crash that killed 38-year-old Melissa Rone last year. A judge sentenced him to nine years in prison.
The scene was in contrast to the crowded courtroom last week when 22-year-old Matthew Cordle was sentenced to 6˝ years after pleading guilty to a June drunken-driving crash. His confession and vow to plead guilty in a YouTube video attracted international attention.
“There were no bells and whistles today,” the victim’s father, Dennis Rone, told the Columbus Dispatch.
Dennis Rone said it was the sixth time he and his wife, Barbara, had attended hearings in Dickerson’s case, watching him switch lawyers and ask for a competency evaluation before nearly taking the case to trial. They finally agreed to the plea bargain.
Authorities said Dickerson was driving so fast on an Interstate 70 exit ramp that his van went into the air over the concrete median, flipped and landed on top of Rone’s Honda CR-V. Rone taught in Columbus schools for 18 years.
Cordle was driving the wrong way on Interstate 670 when he killed 61-year-old Vincent Canzani in a head-on crash on June 22.
“I think a lot of these cases are underpublicized,” said Sgt. Brooke Wilson of the Columbus police accident-investigation squad. “If Cordle hadn’t made that video, no one would have noticed that case.”