CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Referencing an Ohio State Supreme Court decision from 2016, Cuyahoga County judge Michael Russo ruled that methadone can be considered a drug of abuse in the trial of Joshua Gaspar.
Gaspar is facing multiple felonies, including aggravated vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence for hitting and killing trooper Kenneth Velez on Interstate 90 in September 2016.
The judge brought the issue of whether methadone is a drug of abuse up to both attorneys over the weekend. Each weighed in, the defense stating that no evidence from any witnesses showed that methadone was a drug of abuse in this case. Prosecutors cited a specific case from 2016, involving a driver who went to jail for a year for rear ending someone while allegedly under the influence of oxycodone. The judge said that case tied his hands in terms of discretion, and he ruled that methadone could be considered a drug of abuse.
Gaspar had methadone in his system September 15, 2016, when he hit and killed Velez while the officer was out of his car doing traffic enforcement.
Methadone is used to treat an opiate addiction, and Gaspar's dose had been administered to him by a doctor earlier the day of the accident. The prosecution has said the drug, coupled with Gaspar not following the correct protocol while using it, impaired his driving. The defense disagrees.
Gaspar's defense attorney, Jon Sinn, did not present a defense on Monday. He told Cleveland 19 that the prosecution had not proven its case.
Gaspar also told the judge he declined to testify in his own defense.
Closing arguments are expected to begin Tuesday.