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Man gets 4-6 years in fatal hit-skip crash

Staff photo / Guy Vogrin James W. Markley, 45, appears for a sentencing hearing Wednesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. At right is his attorney, Mary Ellen Ditchey.

WARREN — A Southington man on Wednesday was given an indefinite four- to six-year prison sentence on felony convictions for an October fatal car / pedestrian crash in Niles.

James W. Markley, 45, of Rosemary Avenue in Southington, was with his attorney, Mary Ellen Ditchey, for the sentencing hearing before Judge W. Wyatt McKay. Markley had to hear statements from the victim’s relatives criticizing him for leaving the scene of the accident. Before sentencing, Markley turned to the family members to apologize.

“I’m sorry. It was an accident… honestly,” he said.

On May 4, Markley pleaded guilty to a five-count indictment, including aggravated vehicular homicide, failure to stop after an accident, two counts of driving under the influence and tampering with evidence.

On Wednesday, in addition to the prison sentence, McKay fined him $375 and suspended his driver’s license for life. He also faces, after his prison term, between 18 months and three years of supervision from the Ohio Parole Authority.

The judge said the facts and circumstances of the case are “horrific.”

Markley was accused of driving the vehicle that struck and killed Diana M. St. Julian, 31, of Cortland, early Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, on North Main Street near East Federal Street in Niles.

St. Julian was pronounced dead after she was transported to Trumbull Regional Medical Center in Warren. She was struck by a gray Honda traveling south. The driver of the vehicle left the scene and was located by Weathersfield police.

Jail records show Markley was booked into the jail shortly after 9 a.m. that day, and he has remained there.

Among those reading impact statements in court were St. Julian’s grandmother Ramona Lees.

Lees said St. Julian was a loving mother to her 9-year-old son.

“We all loved her very much. She had such a zest for life and a bubbly personality. Our hearts are broken and outraged by her senseless death,” Lees said.

Robert Durst read a prepared statement from the victim’s mother, Melanie Ferrell.

“My little girl was a beautiful person, always with a smile,” the statement started. The mother also talked about St. Julian’s generosity when she had extra money to buy pizza for everyone or pay for the person behind her in a drive-thru line.

The mother then addressed Markley saying: “I know Diana has forgiven you … but a decent person stops if they hit a dog. You let my daughter lie there like she was roadkill,” the mother stated about the defendant’s “stupid and reckless” actions.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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