A Hillsboro man was sent to prison for more than five years on Monday after a Highland County jury found him guilty of grand theft of a motor vehicle.
Casey W. Patton, 32, appeared in Highland County Common Pleas Court as the jury heard evidence from law enforcement and victims in the case.
According to various witnesses, the car owner’s boyfriend had parked the vehicle outside Community Market in Hillsboro on Jan. 28 and left it running with two dogs inside.
The state admitted into evidence video footage of a man in dark clothes identified as Patton taking the car from the parking lot.
After the car was reported stolen, officers with the Hillsboro Police Department contacted OnStar, an on-board technology system that provides emergency assistance and navigation, to ascertain the location of the car.
Officers tracked the car as it drove to the New Vienna area, then south toward Seaman.
Witnesses said Patton released the dogs in the New Vienna area, where they were later found safe.
Patton was apprehended in Seaman after a brief pursuit by the Seaman Police Department, and later admitted to stealing the car.
Patton was represented by local attorneys Denny Kirk and Adam King.
The defense argued that the state did not prove Patton intended to “deprive” the vehicle owner of her car, an essential element of the crime laid out in state law.
Kirk contended in his closing statement that the owner of the vehicle had it back within 24 hours of the theft, and that the state presented no evidence of Patton’s intentions for the car.
Kirk added that Patton was compliant with law enforcement throughout the interview process.
Highland County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Molly Bolek argued in rebuttal that the very act of stealing the car showed Patton’s intentions.
“If the defendant needed a ride, he could have asked for a ride,” she said.
Bolek added that Patton getting rid of the dogs meant he intended to keep the car for as long as he could, and that he destroyed the car’s rearview mirror containing the OnStar controls in an attempt to get rid of the tracking feature.
The jury deliberated for about an hour before handing down its verdict.
Judge Rocky Coss ordered Patton serve a 15-month prison sentence for the theft charge, plus an extra 1,505 days for committing a felony while on post-release control from prison. According to Coss, Patton’s prior sentence was related to a 2011 aggravated robbery case.
Coss said Patton has a “significant previous criminal record.”
Patton was also ordered to pay $158 in restitution for damage to the rearview mirror.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.