Boyd of Belmont County Sentenced to 13 years

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Donald Boyd was sentenced to 13 years in prison — the maximum allowable — after a jury convicted him of aggravated vehicular homicide and drug charges.

Boyd was tried in connection with the September 2018 death of Robert Hartley.

Boyd’s vehicle went left of center on Willow Grove Road, or Belmont County Road 4, and collided head-on with a vehicle operated by Everett Hartley of Neffs.

His brother and passenger Robert Hartley, 52, of Moundsville, died on the scene.

Boyd, 61, of 64790½ Gibas Road, Bellaire, had maintained he was not impaired and that a vehicular malfunction caused the accident.

On Wednesday the court heard emotional testimony from Tonya Rayl, sister of Robert and Everett Hartley. She said the accident continues to haunt Robert Hartley’s siblings, children and grandchildren.

“I can honestly see and feel it as if I was sitting right there,” she said. “Just a blink of an eye, out of nowhere, removed from our lives.”

She broke into tears while recounting hearing the news of her brother’s death and viewing his body. She addressed Boyd.

“It seems to me you have a long history of drugs, driving illegally, no self-control whatsoever, and I don’t feel like you have any remorse whatsoever for what you’ve done,” she said.

“He has to stop. At this point it’s got to stop. My family and I are begging for the absolute max for all charges,” Rayl said. “We ask that you please stop this man from hurting anyone else.”

Boyd’s attorney, Steven Stickles, said his client has “substantial and significant remorse” and asked for a lesser sentence.

“He still has nightmares about what transpired,” Stickles said. “Just because it’s a mandatory prison term doesn’t mean it has to be a mandatory maximum prison term.”

Boyd apologized to Hartley’s family.

“I’d trade my life right now for his,” Boyd said. “I watched him pass. … I have that nightmare not once, but many times a day.”

He maintained that he was not impaired that day. He also recounted his struggles with mental health and substance abuse issues and asked that a shorter sentence and treatment be considered.

“I don’t have that many years left. I’m 61 years old,” he said.

Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato said Boyd has had an extensive criminal history.

“He should never have been in that … vehicle that afternoon,” Fregiato said. “Forgetting his operation, the way he operated that vehicle, forgetting that, he should not have been in the vehicle driving it, period.”

Fregiato imposed 11 years for aggravated vehicular homicide and one year each for fifth-degree felony aggravated possession of drugs and fifth-degree felony possession of LSD to be served consecutively. The three counts of first-degree misdemeanor operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs will be served concurrently. Boyd’s driver’s license was suspended for life.

Stickles said Boyd likely will appeal the verdict and asked that the Belmont County Public Defender’s Office be assigned.


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