PDT Staff Writer
Melinda K. Weddington is on her way to prison for the next 15 years after being convicted on several counts by a Scioto County Common Pleas Court jury on Thursday. Weddington, age 41, of Portsmouth, formerly of West Virginia, was on trial for crashing her car into an Access Scioto County bus and the Fish Bowl bar while being chased by Portsmouth Police on Oct. 23, 2012.
Scioto County Prosecutor Mark E. Kuhn said Thursday that Scioto County Common Pleas Judge William T. Marshall sentenced Weddington to 15 years after the jury found her guilty of robbery, failure to comply with orders of a police officer and aggravated vehicular assault.
Portsmouth Police received a 911 call on Oct. 23, 2012, of a shoplifter at a retail store on 11th Street in Portsmouth. Police then received a second call that the shoplifter had bitten an assistant manager and had fled the store. Officers arrived to find the employee bleeding from the arm, and at the same time, they received word that the same vehicle the alleged robber had driven had been involved in another hit-skip crash on Gallia Street.
Officers searched the east end of Portsmouth looking for the vehicle. A citizen alerted the 911 dispatcher as to the whereabouts of the person involved. Officers located the vehicle and the vehicle fled nearly striking police officers. The vehicle then ran the red light at Eighth Street and Campbell Avenue, striking the bus. The bus driver was ejected and had to be flown by helicopter to a Huntington, W.Va., hospital. A passenger on the bus also suffered injury requiring treatment at Southern Ohio Medical Center.
Kuhn said the robbery was investigated by Portsmouth Police Detective Sergeant Jim Charles, while the police chase and crash were investigated by trooper Brad Johnson of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Both investigations showed Weddington to be under the influence of alcohol at the time.
The driver of the bus, Dorothy Hammond of Lucasville, was so severely injured in the crash that she had been in medical facilities from the time of the crash until March of this year. According to ASC manager Larry Mullins, Hammond will most likely never be able to return to work.
Kuhn said the jury deliberated for over two hours Wednesday when they returned the guilty verdicts on three of the five charges. During sentencing Kuhn presented documents indicating that Weddington had previously been incarcerated from Lawrence County for fleeing police, and jailed in West Virginia for assaulting officers and alcohol charges.
Kuhn represented the state in the trial which lasted three days. Weddington, who represented herself during the trial, has been lodged in the Scioto County Jail since her arrest in 2012, and will remain there until her transfer to the Ohio Reformatory for Women at Marysville.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or firstname.lastname@example.org.