Mentor Man Convicted Of Vehicular Manslaughter, Not Aggravated Vehicular Homicide

Judge Eugene Lucci sentenced Alexander Ochaba to 90 days in jail, the maximum possible punishment for the crime

Alexander Ochaba was led from the Lake County Court of Common Pleas in handcuffs Friday morning.

However, because of the jury's decision, he was able to avoid what could have been a much longer sentence behind bars.

After a week-long trial, including a full day of deliberating, the jury decided that Ochaba, 25, of Mentor, was not guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Instead, they convicted him of vehicular manslaughter, as well as a trio of traffic crimes -- reckless operation, operating without reasonable control and speeding.

The difference between vehicular homicide and manslaughter is whether or not the jury believed Ochaba engaged in reckless behavior that he should have reasonably known to be a threat to others.

Ochaba was driving his motorcycle when he lost control of it while driving east on Mentor Avenue in Willoughby near Andrews-Osborne Academy.

Both he and his motorcycle went off the road onto the sidewalk and his bike hit 76-year-old Sylvia Iwaszko in the back of her legs.

The crash happened on the evening of Aug. 23, 2011. Iwaszko died eight days later in MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

Police testified that Ochaba was driving at least 72 mph in a 35-mph zone when the crash occurred.

Ochaba claimed, during his testimony, that a black sedan cut him off and caused him to crash.

Had Ochaba been convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide, he would have faced up to three years in prison. By contrast, the most Ochaba could receive for vehicular manslaughter was 90 days in jail.

Lake County Common Pleas Judge Eugene Lucci sentenced Ochaba to 90 days in jail. He also suspended his driver's license for three years and ordered him to repay the Iwaszko family for her medical and funeral costs.

The Iwaszko family estimated that those expenses were about $500,000.

Lucci granted Ochaba work release during his jail stay.

"You'll need to work to pay the restitution," Lucci said.

Ochaba's jail term began immediately.

"Sylvia doesn't get to spend Christmas with her family. You don't get to spend Christmas with yours," Lucci said.

During the sentencing hearing, Sandy Iwaszko, Sylvia's daughter, noted that Ochaba had three previous convictions for speeding and one for driving while drunk.

"This is not his first time doing this," she said. "It's a pattern that has escalated to taking someone's life."

Michelle Wells, also Sylvia's daughter, said Ochaba should have known better than to speed.

"I don't think the young man knowingly went out to kill someone, but the ripple effect is my mother won't be here for Christmas," she said. "My family has been robbed and my mother has been robbed since he chose to drive at that high rate of speed."

Alexander Wells, Sylvia's grandmother, told Ochaba, "I want you to learn from this and carry it with you for the rest of your life."

Ochaba apologized to the Iwaszko family during the hearing.

"I'm sorry this happened," he said. "If there was anything I could have done, I would have done it. Please believe me. I would have done anything to prevent this if I would have seen her there."

bill December 21, 2012 at 05:13 PM
72 mph he knew what he was doing 90 days for murder wow
bill miller December 21, 2012 at 05:13 PM
72 mph he knew what he was doing 90 days for murder wow
NOchaba December 21, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I've known him most of my life and he's a piece of trash. He deserves more than 90 days for this. I feel for Sylvia's family.
NOchaba December 21, 2012 at 05:43 PM
And I don't know whether or not this has been made public, but his family served on Lucci's re-election campaign. I wonder if that has anything to do with his sentence.
Jason Lea (Editor) December 21, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Lucci gave Ochaba the maximum possible sentence.
john smith December 22, 2012 at 08:40 AM
Ive known alex for a long time and he's a really good guy. No doubt that this was a terribly tragic accident, but I know theres no way he went that fast in such a busy area. People please, cops arent always right just because they're cops. Oh and by the way, these articles are extremely biased. I bet you wont find one article that speaks of the witness who actually was right behind ochaba. She said he remained a car length behind her until he lost control. So if he was going 72, she mustve been too right? She also testified that he was not driving recklessly. I dare any of you to try going 72 in heavy traffic. Not possible. Calculations were obviously off somewhere. And nochaba, the ochabas had no part in any re-election campaign. Lucci was grossly biased toward ochaba the whole trial and ochaba got the maximum penalty fof what he was convicted of
Play more hockey December 22, 2012 at 01:24 PM
It's simple physics you can't get thrown 200 feet unless you are going over 60 mph. When your behavior is the direct cause of death you should get more than 90 days in jail. Defense attorneys deserve to feel some of the pain - how can they live with themselves. Sleep well...
Kyle December 22, 2012 at 03:17 PM
He testified that he was in fact switching lanes a bunch of times. How many times do you have to switch lanes before people consider it reckless? There is no need to weave in and out of traffic. A person died because of his actions and he is getting away with a slap on the wrist.
NOchaba December 22, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Juror, I agree with your sentiments entirely. The law really is the greater problem here, and with that information I can understand why the conviction was for manslaughter. I do wonder if his driving history ever presented at trial or was that not on record?
NOchaba December 22, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Well regardless of the verdict, my heart goes out to the family of the victim. Such a tragedy.
Michele DiVito December 22, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Why does this have to be posted on the internet? Gross misuse of the internet causes people undue stress AD NAUSEUM BTW GOD and yes Jason there is one and you will have to answer to Him wether you believe it or not, is the ultimate judge. He will judge judges, jurors and internet reporters.
ellen December 22, 2012 at 06:59 PM
And comment posters Michele.
Mentorite December 26, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Jason - What's with this Divito person? She obviously has a problem with you, you should have the right to block her from commenting.
Mentorite December 26, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Michele - If you have such a problem with the things that are posted here why do you visit?
Jason Lea (Editor) December 27, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Last year, I wrote a story about someone who was a friend of hers. The friend was initially charged with tampering with evidence and robbery. She later pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of petty theft and possession of criminal tools. Since then, Divito has had a grudge against me and the Mentor Police Department. To make a long story short, yes, I could ban her from commenting. However, I only want to do that as a last resort.
DL December 28, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Keep up the good work Jason. I know I would block her so that makes you one ahead of me. Freedom of expression and all that.


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