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Driver Found Guilty In Death

March 9, 2012

Staff photo/Mike Burkholder: Jinghao Xu, center, is flanked by his translator, left, and his attorney, Michael Sacher, during his change-of-plea hearing Friday in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.

CELINA — A Korean man was found guilty of causing an accident that claimed the life of a Minster girl in October.

During a change-of-plea hearing in Mercer County Common Pleas Court Friday afternoon, Jinghao Xu, 50, pleaded no contest to one count of vehicular homicide, a fourth-degree felony. The charge stems from an Oct. 15 collision at the intersection of Ohio 119 and U.S. 127 in Granville Township. Aubrey L. Bruns, 3, of Minster, died from injuries suffered in the collision.

Mercer County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Ingraham found Xu guilty of the charge. The hearing took a little longer than usual because a translator assisted Xu’s attorney — Michael Sacher — during the hearing to make sure Xu understood the proceedings.

Before finding him guilty, Ingraham had Mercer County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Fox review the facts surrounding the collision. During his address, Fox shed some light into the state’s case against Xu.

“He spoke very little English and he provided to Deputy Baker a driver’s license from Illinois,” Fox said. “Deputy Baker ran the Illinois license and it came back to Jinghao Xu ... with a status of canceled driver’s license. Deputy Baker confirmed the Illinois license cancellation was in effect.”

Fox said Xu showed no signs of being impaired at the time of the collision.

According to a crash report, Xu was driving a 2006 Chevrolet Express Van westbound on Ohio 119. He stopped at the stop sign and entered the intersection. Upon entering the intersection, the van was struck by a northbound 2002 Chevrolet Prism. Three other people in the Prism, including the driver, were treated for injuries, as was Xu.

After the crash, law enforcement officials checked into Xu’s immigration status because he reportedly told them he was not a U.S. citizen.

Ingraham informed Xu that in addition to any criminal penalties, he could be deported because he was found guilty of the crime. Ingraham set a sentencing hearing for 9:30 a.m. April 11, where Xu faces a maximum of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine as well as any restitution imposed by Ingraham.

Xu also has been named a defendant in a civil suit filed in Mercer County Common Pleas Court related to the collision. That matter is still pending.

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