Prosecutors say a New York man sent a text before traveling to Ohio last August that said he was looking for a fight.
At a rest area in Bath Township off Interstate 77, they say Paul Randall Jr. picked a fight with Scott Reichard — a man he had never met — first assaulting him and then running Reichard over with his own truck, killing him.
“He and his friends were looking for trouble,” Assistant Prosecutor Greg Peacock said Monday during Randall’s guilty plea and sentencing. “This was something that was building up with him.”
Peacock noted that investigators found dozens of empty beer cans in Randall’s vehicle.
Randall, 35, of Dolgeville, N.Y., pleaded guilty under an agreement with prosecutors Monday to aggravated vehicular homicide, felonious assault and several lesser charges for the death of Reichard, 42, of North Olmsted.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Alison Breaux sentenced Randall to 30 years in prison, the term agreed to by prosecutors and Kirk Migdal, Randall’s attorney.
Randall attacked Reichard at the rest area on Interstate 77 in Bath Township on the morning of Aug. 17. Witnesses said Randall knocked Reichard to the ground, stole his truck, ran over him and then fled. Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers arrested Randall the next day on Interstate 70 in Guernsey County.
Randall, who was originally charged with murder, also pleaded guilty to grand theft of a motor vehicle, failure to stop after an accident, tampering with evidence, operating a vehicle under the influence, driving under suspension and theft of drugs — for prescription medicine in Reichard’s truck.
Several of Reichard’s family members, including his son and wife, spoke during the sentencing, sharing their memories of his life and the shock of his death. By the end, many people in the courtroom were teary, including Randall and Breaux.
Will Reichard, Scott’s brother, said when he got the call about how his brother had been killed he “felt as if someone held me down … and used a dull machete to hack off part of my soul.” He said his brother was a hard worker, great father and was “what we all believe we should be.”
Scott Reichard Jr., 25, said he’ll never forgive Randall for taking the life of his father and best friend.
“One thing I want him to remember is that he didn’t just kill my father,” Reichard said. “He killed my family.”
Joyce Reichard, Scott’s wife, said she will oppose Randall’s release from prison as long as she lives.
“May God have mercy on your soul,” she said to Randall. “I may have to forgive you for my own sanity, but I certainly will not forget what you have done.”
Randall apologized to Reichard’s family and said he won’t ask them to forgive him. He said his “foolish drunkenness” took the life of an innocent man.
“There will never be a day when I don’t regret my actions,” Randall said. “I destroyed a family, embarrassed my family and am so ashamed of myself. I humbly accept my punishment. I’m very, very sorry.”
Breaux said there’s nothing she can say that will give the Reichard family solace.
“You took a very good person from this Earth,” she told Randall.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter@swarsmithabj.