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Judge, wife sentenced to 2-year terms in hit-run crash

April 14, 2021 GMT

MARION, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio county judge and his wife have both been sentenced to two-year prison terms on convictions of leaving the scene of a crash that injured a 19-year-old man last year.

Jason Warner, who serves as a Marion County Common Pleas judge, and Julia Warner were convicted last month of complicity to leaving the scene of an accident, a fourth-degree felony, and complicity to evidence-tampering, a third-degree felony. Julia Warner, the driver, was also convicted of misdemeanor negligent assault.

The charges stemmed from a crash in Marion last June. Authorities have said Julia Warner failed to yield while turning and collided with another vehicle, which then hit a utility pole. The couple fled the scene in their vehicle moments later, and Julia Warner reported the crash about nine hours later, authorities said.

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The Marion Star reports that visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove cited as a major factor in her sentence Wednesday evidence that their actions removed evidence from the crime scene and prevented blood alcohol tests, and that their car was hidden in their garage and authorities weren’t contacted for hours.

Both defendants gave apologetic statements to the court, Julia Warner saying tearfully that she didn’t know what to do and “I panicked and I left and should not have done that and I know that.” Jason Warner said he feels horrible and continues to lose sleep over his actions, which he said stemmed from his wife’s mental state.

As a convicted felon, Jason Warner will no longer be eligible to serve as a judge. He was elected in November 2018 but has been on a leave of absence. Defense attorneys said they would appeal. Sam Shamansky, Jason Warner’s defense attorney, said the prosecution failed to provide evidence that his client was guilty of either crime.