Sentence for third domestic violence charge
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CHAD PLAUCHE-ADKINS The Marietta Times
Public Defender Shawna Landaker requests leniency for her client, Keith Huff, Wednesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court.
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Keith Huff sentencing
•Charges: Violation of a protection order, fifth-degree felony; Domestic violence and aggravated menacing, both misdemeanors.
•Sentence: Time served for both misdemeanors, STAR Community Justice Center program in lieu of 50 days confinement at the Washington County Jail.
Source: Washington County Common Pleas Court.
By Chad Plauche-Adkins
The Marietta Times
Despite having two previous convictions of domestic violence, a Marietta man’s third charge for the crime along with the fifth-degree felony charge of violating a protection order and aggravated menacing didn’t deliver any prison time for him on Wednesday.
Keith Allen Huff, 34, of 127 State Route 821, was sentenced to time served plus 50 more days confinement and ordered to report to the Washington County Jail for processing. He will be released until Jan. 16, when he is ordered to return to the jail until an opening at the STAR Community Justice Center on Jan. 21 allows him to be transferred there. Huff was also sentenced to two years community control for his crimes.
This went against Washington County Assistant Prosecutor David Silwani’s request that Huff be detained through the holiday season until a bed becomes open at the STAR Community Justice Center. Silwani said he believes Huff can be rehabilitated, but should serve time for his violations.
The sentencing came after Huff pleaded guilty to the charges stemming from threatening his former girlfriend, Jordan Romick, and assaulting his current girlfriend, Valerie Yakelewicz-Ortiz-Larroy.
Huff was arrested on June 14 for domestic violence after Yakelewicz-Ortiz-Larroy reported that he had hit and head butted her at his residence on Ohio 821. Meanwhile, Romick reported to authorities that on Sept. 30, Huff had told her friend that he was going to find her and kill her. According to police reports, he attempted to drive to Romick’s residence, but passed out en route, forcing Yakelwicz-Ortiz-Larroy to drive him back to his home. When police arrived at his residence, Huff was charged with the violation of a protection order due to Yakelwicz-Ortiz-Larroy having one after the June 14 incident of domestic violence.
Silwani was asked by Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Kerenyi why Huff’s domestic violence charge was only a misdemeanor when he had prior charges for the same crime. Silwani said the credibility of one of the victims raised doubt about getting a conviction if he took the case to trial.
Silwani said that violently worded Facebook messages reportedly sent by Huff to the victim initially helped make the domestic violence charge felonious. That was until the truth of their origin was told by the victim.
“The messages weren’t from Huff,” he said.
An emotional Huff said before sentencing he had regrets and asked for leniency from the court.
“I know I have to correct myself and the way I live,” he said. “I’ll do anything if you don’t put me in jail.”
Through tears, Huff continued to tell the court he had missed his daughter’s birthday earlier in the year while originally incarcerated for the crimes, and didn’t want to miss Christmas with her.
A letter read by Silwani during the hearing from the aggravated menacing victim raised doubts about Huff’s sincerity.
“(The other victims) are in serious danger and if they choose to leave this abusive cycle, the next girl in line will be a victim,” the letter said.
During sentencing Kerenyi told Huff not to take advantage of the chance to spend the holidays with his family by not reporting to jail early next year.
“You’re going to have enough rope to hang yourself,” Kerenyi said.
Kerenyi went on to say that if he doesn’t report, a charge of escape could be added and the original felony charge of violating a protection order could be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Silwani said the reason that Huff wasn’t facing prison time is because of Ohio’s Targeted Community Alternatives to Prison (T-CAP) program. He said the program diverts fifth-degree felons from prison to more rehabilitative facilities unless the offense is one that warrants more severe punishment.
“Violating a protection order is not one of them,” he said.
Even though Huff is scheduled to spend the majority of his time confined at the STAR Community Justice Center, a community-based correctional facility intended to promote public safety and reduce prison commitments, he can face the full repercussions of his charges if he fails to complete the program.