19 years later, man seeks limited driving rights


A Bainbridge man whose driver’s license was permanently revoked after he was convicted more than 19 years ago of aggravated vehicular homicide has to wait to learn if the judge will allow him limited driving privileges.

Visiting Fayette County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Beathard heard the case Friday, and the hearing ended with the judge taking the matter under advisement. Beathard presided over the hearing because Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss was the prosecutor on the case in 1996. Court records show Coss recused himself from the case in November after a motion for the limited driving privileges to be restored was filed in Highland County.

James Robert Fillmore, 46, was convicted by a jury in late 1996 of aggravated vehicular homicide, a charge stemming from an April 1996 car crash that killed Benjamin Shiltz. It was alleged that Fillmore was the driver and was under the influence of alcohol when the crash occurred. Fillmore spent eight years in prison and was released in 2004.

Fillmore is seeking limited driving privileges so he can drive to and from work. He testified Friday that he works for his brother’s construction company, and they work throughout Highland and surrounding counties. For the past 11 years, he said he has mostly had to rely on family members, including his brother, to get him from one job site to another, and at varying hours.

He told Beathard that there had been times in the past when he has driven himself when no one else was available so he could get to work. Fillmore said he got pulled over in Pickaway County in 2012 and at first gave his brother’s name to the officer, but then he came clean telling the officer his real name and why he had lied.

“I got nervous,” Fillmore said Friday, and did something he should not have done, he said. He told the judge he has not driven himself since.

Sometime after Fillmore’s conviction, the legislature changed the wording of the law concerning driver’s license revocation from lifetime revocation to lifetime suspension.

On Friday, Beathard requested that the attorneys for the state and defense provide a brief containing their interpretation of what the legislative intent was for that language change. The judge is to file an entry once he has made a decision on the matter.

In other hearings this week, Cindy L. Hackney, 37, Mount Orab, was sentenced to community control and ordered to successfully complete treatment.

Hackney pled guilty to four counts of fourth-degree felony receiving stolen property in January.

A warrant was issued for the arrest of Jennifer R. Piatt, 32, New Vienna, who failed to appear for a scheduled hearing.

Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.

James Fillmore is pictured with defense attorney Deborah Barrington in Highland County Common Pleas Court on Friday.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2016/02/web1_court-color.jpgJames Fillmore is pictured with defense attorney Deborah Barrington in Highland County Common Pleas Court on Friday.

By Angela Shepherd

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