Nov 12, 2014 5:55 PM
Ohioan gets 5 years for child rape suspect's death
The Associated Press
URBANA, Ohio (AP) A judge on Wednesday handed down a five-year prison term to an Ohio man for the jailhouse beating of a child-rape suspect who later died, rejecting the suspect's allegations that other inmates also attacked the victim.
Defendant Zachary Butler also was fined $1,500 and ordered to serve three years' probation after prison.
A report by the Champaign County Sheriff's Office says inmate David Piersol was beaten on April 5 at Tri-County Regional Jail in Mechanicsburg and died a few days later. Piersol, of Marysville, was in jail after being charged with allegedly raping a young girl.
Butler, 24, of Richwood, pleaded guilty last month to one count of reckless homicide and one count of tampering with evidence.
The tampering charge involves an accusation that Butler traded blood-stained pants with another inmate, said Champaign County prosecutor Kevin Talebi.
Champaign County Judge Nick Selvaggio said Butler had shown remorse and was one of the few offenders he'd ever seen directly address a victim's family when apologizing.
Selvaggio said Butler also acted at the urging of other inmates, who were verbally assaulting Piersol because of the nature of the crime, according to testimony Wednesday.
But Selvaggio said he couldn't overlook the seriousness of Butler's assault on Piersol, the fact it happened in a jail and the fact that Butler didn't seek help for the victim afterward.
"What's clear is this defendant is the one who caused the death," Selvaggio said.
Butler took responsibility for the assault and apologized to Piersol's family. He said other inmates told him he had to attack Piersol as a new inmate in the jail, where Butler had been placed on unrelated charges.
"I made bad decisions," Butler said. "I knew what I was doing."
Piersol's sister, Gery Martin, told the judge her brother's death was a huge loss for the family, and she told Butler directly: "Our family is holding you accountable."
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.