The 20-year-old found guilty of the Oct. 14 hit-and-run accident that killed a Washington C.H. man was sentenced Monday to one year in prison.
Elijah A. Stanforth was found guilty by a jury trial on Aug. 28 of failure to stop after an accident, a third-degree felony. On Monday morning, Stanforth was sentenced in Fayette County Common Pleas Court.
Just after 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 14, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) received a call from a passing motorist reporting a male in the ditch area in front of Heritage Memorial Church, located in the 1800 block of Old Route 35 NW in Washington C.H. The man was found deceased in the ditch on the south side of the roadway.
The man was identified as 44-year-old Thomas Ketcher, who was pronounced dead at the scene by the Fayette County Coroner’s Office. Ketcher was an employee at Sugarcreek Packing.
“It was a tough case,” said Sean Abbott, the assistant prosecuting attorney for the Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office who tried the case for the state. “It’s not a clear-cut case where people can just be outraged about it. It’s tough because we had a dead body and we don’t know if he would have survived if Mr. Stanforth had called the police. It’s something that we’ll never know and that’s the frustrating part about it. As far as the 12 month sentence goes, I’m satisfied that prison is involved just based on the serious nature of what he did.”
During the course of the investigation, the FCSO received a tip concerning the possible whereabouts of a vehicle involved in the fatal crash. Detectives located a black Ford Fusion with damage to the windshield and passenger side at a residence on South Jackson Street in Sabina, according to Sheriff Vernon Stanforth.
The FCSO determined that Elijah Stanforth was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the crash. He was reportedly heading east on Old Route 35 NW at approximately 3 a.m. Oct. 14, accidentally struck Ketcher on the road, and left the scene without reporting the crash.
An indictment was filed in December, but the location where Stanforth was residing was not discovered by authorities until January. Stanforth was summoned to court at that time.
“It was a challenging case because there were some variables involved,” said Abbott. “We had to prove knowledge and that he did know what he hit. That was the toughest part from our perspective. I’m just thankful we got the jury to agree with us.”
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.