Man pleads not guilty in fiery fatal crash

WARREN — A man police said caused a deadly five-vehicle crash at Parkman Road and West Market Street after ignoring police signals to pull over, pleaded not guilty Monday to several felony charges.

Joseph L. Myers, 31, North Leavitt Road, Leavittsburg, pleaded not guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer and assault before Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Peter J. Kontos, according to court records. A Trumbull County grand jury indicted Myers on the charges earlier this month.

The judge set his bond at $150,000, which Myers had not posted as of Monday evening, according to court records. Myers, who remains in Trumbull County Jail, is scheduled to appear again before Kontos June 10.

Anthony Blackwell, 34, of Warren, was killed in the April 11 crash that injured several others.

Surveillance video at the scene shows Myers’ Toyota Prius speeding through the intersection, violently striking at least one vehicle after swerving left.

An officer tried to make a traffic stop on the Prius along Fulton Street, near Pine Avenue SE, for making an improper turn, according to a police report. The vehicle did not stop, and a pursuit ensued.

Police called off the pursuit less than a minute before the crash. Police radio traffic indicated the pursuing officer reached 60 mph at one point during the chase. The posted speed limit on West Market Street is 25 mph.

When the officer started his pursuit, a sergeant came across the radio and asked the officer for his speed and reason for pursuit, according to police reports. After the officer replied he was driving 60 mph and provided the reason — an improper turn — he was told to terminate the pursuit, which he did.

According to the department’s pursuit policy, “By its very nature, pursuit of a fleeing motor vehicle places the officer, the fleeing suspect and the public at risk of serious injury or death. It is a basic responsibility of Warren police officers to apprehend suspects whenever feasible; however, it is also the duty of every member of this agency to protect persons’ lives as much as possible when enforcing the law.”

According to reports, the officer told 911 dispatchers he was familiar with the vehicle and was going to check an address where he thought the vehicle may be headed. On his way to the address, the officer came upon the crash.

Myers was previously arrested on charges of driving under suspension, speeding, theft and being a fugitive from justice, according to jail records.