A 27-year-old Washington C.H. man was sentenced to three years in prison Monday after being found guilty of tampering with evidence for dragging an unconscious man who later died across the street before calling 911.
Trevor Milstead was found guilty Friday of the tampering charge and not guilty of involuntary manslaughter on the second day of a bench trial in Fayette County Common Pleas Court.
On May 27, 2016, Milstead reportedly called 911 and said there was a man passed out on the side of Eastview Road behind City Motel, according to the Washington C.H. Police Department. WPD patrolman Jeff Heinz wrote in a report that Milstead provided “several different deceptive statements” to police about his encounters with the unconscious man, who was identified as 38-year-old Jonathan Thomas.
Milstead reportedly told police he was returning to his home on Washington Avenue when he saw Thomas passed out at approximately 4:30 a.m.
Heinz wrote in the report that he observed “drag marks” through the grass in the dew, and that Milstead changed his story and said he found the man in the grass beside his house, and dragged him across the street. According to Heinz’s report, Milstead said he moved Thomas across the street to “set him up on the curb” and that “the light was better to give CPR.”
Thomas could not be revived and nine days later, he died at Grant Memorial Hospital in Columbus. According to reports, Thomas died of traumatic brain injury associated with a fall. Opioids were also found in his system.
The Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office charged Milstead with involuntary manslaughter because they say Milstead dropped Thomas as he was moving him. However, there was not enough evidence to support when the head injury actually occurred.
“No one disputed that was the cause of death,” said John Scott, assistant prosecutor at the Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office. “They can’t say for sure if he suffered an overdose because they can’t say, going backwards, when the opiates were delivered. But EMS was dispatched to the scene, (Thomas) responded positively to Narcan (medication used to block the effects of opioids). His breathing returned to normal, but he never regained consciousness.”
During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Milstead apologized.
“In the future, I want to better myself as a person,” he said. “I learned a lot from sitting here over the past five-and-a-half months, and I’ll do my best to make a positive impact in the community.”
The longtime girlfriend of Thomas’s father also made a statement during the hearing, and requested that Milstead look her in the face.
“He may not have been found guilty of manslaughter here, but there is a higher justice,” she said. “Someday he’s going to face the Lord.”
Judge Steven Beathard said he found that Milstead displayed no genuine remorse, and that recidivism is more likely for him given his criminal history.
After sentencing Milstead to three years, Beathard said, “All you had to do was call 911 and you would have avoided all of this, and probably, Mr. Thomas would not be dead.”
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica