Maximum sentence given to Ashtabula man who admitted to driving drunk, killing 4 people in crash

Donte Conard will serve 32 years behind bars.

emotional sentencing for ovi

ASHTABULA, Ohio (WOIO) -The man who pleaded no contest in April for driving under the influence of alcohol and causing a crash that killed two young adults, their toddler son, and a cousin will spend 32 years behind bars.

That ruling came from a judge in an Ashtabula courtroom on Thursday morning.

The crash, which happened in October 2018 at an Ashtabula intersection, killed 19-year-old Anastasia Smith, 18-year-old Giovanni Miller, their 22-month-old son, Giovanni, Jr., and Smith's cousin, 47-year-old Michelle Hommes.

The family was traveling in a Toyota that late Friday evening, and the vehicle stopped at a stop sign at the corner of West 58th and Adams Street in Ashtabula, prosecutors said.

At that same time, Donte Conard approached the same intersection in a pickup truck. Conard, whose blood alcohol level was far over the legal limit, did not pause at the stop sign, as the Toyota legally continued through the intersection.

The collision forced the Toyota into a utility pole, then a tree.

All four people inside the Toyota died, even though the adults were wearing seat belts and the child was strapped into a car seat.

"In the blink of an eye, everything, everyone's life was just gone," said Michelle Hommes' daughter, Amanda Dodge.

Donte Conard has a record of previous arrests, including four drunken driving charges and 21 license suspensions. At the time of the crash, prosecutors say, the windows on his pickup truck were tinted four times the legal limit for window tinting.

At the sentencing, Conard addressed both the victims' families and his own.

“I know there’s no words to express how you guys feel, how sorry I am. All I can do is ask you to somehow, some way, find some way to forgive me for what took place. All I can do,” he said. “And express to my family, to forgive me for what I’m putting you through, as well.”

Conard's daughter, Brittany, who did not give her last name, pleaded with the judge to show leniency to her father and help him get treatment for alcoholism. The victims' families rejected that idea.

“For the family to ask for him to get help now, like, five DUIs and then you kill five people, a 22-month-old baby, and all of a sudden, you guys want help? I’m sorry, but that’s not fair,” said Dodge.

While there were four people inside the Toyota at the time, Anastasia Smith's mother, Nichole Hommes, said her daughter was two weeks pregnant when she died.

“So not only did we lose the baby, Giovanni, we lost someone that we’ll never even get to meet,” she told the court. “My kids will never grow up with their sister, their nephew. My whole sunshine is gone, I don’t even know.”

The judge sentenced Conard to the legal maximum, 8 years for each count of vehicular homicide, for a total of 32 years behind bars. He was sentenced to one additional year for the OVI charge.

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