Support for Vanata saves prison sentence

GREENVILLE – Even with a criminal past, Darke County Common Pleas Court Judge Jonathan P. Hein decided to give  Christopher Vanata another chance and not send him to prison Friday.

Vanata arrived to his sentencing hearing with a support system the judge stated the court rarely comes across. Four young men and members from Vanata’s church were there to support the 27-year-old Greenville graduate.

“We don’t see this often,” Judge Hein said. “There usually isn’t a lot of support for men 25-30 years old these days. The influences now are more negative then ever before.”

Vanata was indicted on one count of Felonious Assault, a felony of the second degree, after he reportedly attacked his friend and roommate with a sword while intoxicated. He later pleaded guilty to a lowered charge of Aggravated Assault, a fourth degree felony, as part of a plea bargain with the state.

“The victim and former friend asked that Mr. Vanata not receive any prison time,” Darke County Prosecuting Attorney Kelly Ormsby said during Friday’s sentencing. “He said the offense only happened because of alcohol mixed with mental health issues.”

Vanata has a history of crimes involving several disorderly conducts, DUI, domestic violence and drug-related charges out of both Darke and Miami Counties. According to a pre-sentence investigation, he has used alcohol and drugs continuously since the age of thirteen.

Vanata’s defense attorney Paul Wagner told the court during sentencing that Vanata has attended Darke County Recovery Services and Mental Health early on since the date of the offense.

“This shows a change in his life and not just lip service,” Wagner told the judge.

“I can’t take back what happened, though I wish I could,” Vanata stated. “I am doing everything to make changes in my life.”

Judge Hein placed Vanata on probation for 60 months, along with 30 days in jail with work release privileges and 100 hours of community service.

“He has a better chance with friends holding him accountable,” Judge Hein concluded. “Lone rangers don’t do very well.”

Vanata will face 9 months in prison if he violates the terms of probation.

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