LIMA — An Arizona man who drove drunk and caused a traffic accident that claimed the life of a 15-year-old Michigan boy in Allen County last year will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Jurors deliberated for just over an hour Thursday before finding John Robinson, 65, guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony, for driving drunk and causing a traffic accident that claimed the life of Christopher Watson and injured four members of the Watson family.
Robinson was also found guilty of two counts of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and four counts of aggravated vehicular assault.
Allen County Common Pleas Judge Terri Kohlrieser sentenced Robinson to a total of 27 1/2 years behind bars, ordering all sentences be served consecutively. The man showed little emotion when the verdicts were read.
According to testimony Thursday morning from Lucas County Coroner Diane Scala-Barnett, Christopher Watson died of multiple blunt force injuries to his chest and abdomen as a result of a head-on collision that took place around midnight on May 2, 2018. Testimony showed Robinson drove his Ford F-350 pickup truck the wrong way down an I-75 exit ramp near Beaverdam and struck head-on an SUV carrying the family from Ypsilanti, Michigan, home from a vacation to Walt Disney World.
Prior to sentencing, Robinson offered what Kohlrieser would later describe as little more than a rambling “diatribe” that bounced from topic to topic and for the most part attempted to cast blame for the accident in a variety of directions — from a failed navigation system to a confusing exit ramp configuration. The Phoenix man, who was employed at a Lima trucking company as an over-the-road driver at the time of the crash, did offer his apologies to the family of Christopher Watson.
“Life is precious. I feel terrible for your loss. From the deepest part of of me I’m sorry … so sorry,” Robinson said.
But Kohlrieser told Robinson his rambling statement “shows a total lack of remorse.”
“What you said today was totally belied by the testimony,” the judge said. “This diatribe did nothing but show me how unremorseful you really area. You made repeated attempts to avoid responsibility for your actions and most of what you said was about you.”
Pastor Louis Frye, the uncle of Christopher Watson’s mother, spoke on behalf of the victim’s family. He said Christopher’s family “will never be the same again” after the horrific events of May 2, 2018.
Turning to Robinson, Frye said, “The family forgives you. We have to forgive you so we can go on with our lives. We’re going to go on. We’re going to make it. And sir, I pray you will find you can be an instrument to help somebody who struggles with substance abuse issues. You can make a difference in someone’s life.”
Thursday morning testimony was emotional for jurors and family members alike as prosecutors displayed photos taken of the teen boy during the autopsy performed in Lucas County. Several jurors were visibly shaken by what they saw on the courtroom screen, dabbing at their eyes with tissues and fighting back tears as the photos were displayed. Members of the Watson family also left the courtroom briefly during that portion of the trial.
The state then rested its case and Defense Attorney Steve Chamberlain called no witnesses.