Maximum jail time for vehicular homicide

A Marietta man responsible for a September car crash that took a man’s life apologized to the victim’s family Thursday in Washington County Common Pleas Court before being sentenced to the maximum jail time and fine on the charge.

Zachary J. Dumas, 24, of 102 Woodcrest Lane, was sentenced to six months in jail, and a $1,000 fine on a first-degree misdemeanor count of vehicular homicide.

According to onlookers, Dumas’ vehicle drifted left of center on Ohio 26 the morning of Sept. 16 when he struck the oncoming vehicle of 55-year-old Robert J. Goddard, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Goddard’s family was present in the courtroom Thursday, but declined to make a statement.

Given his chance to make a statement, Dumas stood and faced Goddard’s family as he read a letter of apology.

“I understand nothing I can do or say will take away the pain and suffering you have endured…I am truly and deeply sorry for all the pain and heartache my actions have caused.” Dumas told the family.

Whether or not Dumas was looking at his cell phone when the accident happened has been a point of contention throughout the case.

Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings agreed Thursday that a forensics lab could not prove Dumas had been pressing keys on his phone when the accident occurred.

“But there was much activity and the last activity was less than a minute before the accident…it was either sending or receiving (a text),” said Rings.

A third-degree felony charge of tampering with evidence against Dumas for allegedly deleting the morning’s text messages before giving his phone to the Ohio State Highway Patrol was dropped in exchange for Dumas’ plea of no contest to the vehicular homicide charge.

A second-degree misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter was also dismissed at Dumas’ May change of plea hearing.

Attorney George Cosenza, who represented Dumas, said he understood the need to fashion a sentence that considers all parties involved, but asked Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane to consider Dumas’ remorse and letters written about his character in issuing a sentence.

“I think you have an insight into who Zach is by the letters that have been written on his behalf by family, and friends and coworkers,” said Cosenza.

Lane said those letters as well as letters from the victim’s loved ones had been taken into account.

Lane did not go over Dumas’ prior criminal record. According to Marietta Municipal Court records, Dumas has prior traffic infractions including two failure to control citations in 2012. The first citation went hand-in-hand with an OVI charge, where Dumas blew a .124 percent blood alcohol content on a breath test.

Dumas has also had a speeding ticket since the fatal accident occurred, charged by the Marietta Police Department in March for driving 50 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone.

In addition to a six-month jail sentence and $1,000 fine, Lane ordered a five-year driver’s license suspension.

Dumas was also ordered to pay $294.37 restitution to Goddard’s son for lost wages resulting from the accident.