Trial Begins For Mentor Man Accused of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide

Alexander Ochaba is accused of causing a 76-year-old woman's death

The trial for a Mentor man accused of causing the death of a 76-year-old woman began Monday.

Alexander Ochaba, 25, was driving his motorcycle when he lost control of it on Aug. 23, 2011 while driving east on Mentor Avenue in Willoughby near Andrews-Osborne Academy and the border with Mentor.

Both he and his motorcycle went off the road onto the sidewalk and his bike hit Sylvia Iwaszko in the back of her legs. She suffered a fractured wrist, arm and vertebrae. Surgeons also had to amputate one of her legs.

She died seven days later at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

Ochaba is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, reckless operation, operation without reasonable control and speeding.

During his opening statement, Lake County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Bartolotta told jurors that Ochaba was driving more than 70 mph in a 35-mph zone when he lost control of his motorcycle.

Bartolotta said the crash and Iwaszko's death occurred because Ochaba was driving at a reckless speed.

"No one's going to come in here and tell you Alexander Ochaba's a bad person," Bartolotta said. "No one's going to tell you he intended to hurt her. What you are going to hear from witness after witness is that we was driving reckless -- driving like a maniac."

Bartolotta said that Ochaba was being reckless.

"That's why this isn't just an accident -- an unfortunate death," he told jurors.

Ochaba's attorney, Hector Martinez, disagreed with Bartolotta. He told the jurors that the crash was a "tragic, freak accident."

Martinez said Ochaba was not "consciously disregarding a known risk" when he crashed, so he was not guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Martinez said during his opening statement that he was, in no way, blaming Iwaszko for what happened.

"This should have never happened to her," Martinez said. "She didn't deserve this."

Ochaba's trial will continue this week in Lake County Common Pleas Judge Eugene Lucci's courtroom. Ochaba is expected to testify in his own defense.

If convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide, Ochaba could face between one and five years in prison.


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