Four sentenced in common pleas court hearings


By Jacob Clary - jclary@aimmediamidwest.com



Hillsboro resident James Welch Jr. was sentenced to three years of community control on one count of possession of heroin, a fifth-degree felony, and one count of aggravated possession of methamphetamine, a fifth-degree felony last week.

According to the judgment entry from Highland County Common Pleas Court, Welch, 50, also must successfully complete residential substance abuse disorder (SAD) treatment and recommended aftercare. If he violates any of the community control sanctions, he must serve a 24-month prison sentence and pay a fine of $5,000.

According to a bill of particulars, on or around Dec. 9, 2020, while on patrol an officer saw a tan Honda leave a residence at 408 S. East St. in Hillsboro. The vehicle left southbound in an alleyway behind that residence and when the driver reached the stop sign, the driver turned on the left turn signal, but instead made a right turn. An officer followed the vehicle toward Muntz Street. and saw the driver not activate a turn signal 100 feet before turning left onto South East Street, but it was activated while the driver was in the process of making the left turn.

The officer started a traffic stop on the vehicle in alley behind Holtfield Station. The officer approached the vehicle and told the male driver the reason for the traffic stop. The bill of particulars said the male driver, identified as Welch, said he was nervous and made a last-second choice to turn right instead of left. The officer asked Welch if he had any kind of narcotics or anything else inside the vehicle that shouldn’t be there. Welch told the officer he had a methamphetamine pipe and “a little bit of weed.” The officer then asked Welch if there was something else in the vehicle and he said there was not, according to the bill.

The officer had Welch exit the vehicle and Welch told the officer he had methamphetamine and a “rig” inside the vehicle. Welch told the officer the narcotics were inside a red box under the driver’s seat. When the officer opened the red box, the officer found two baggies that had a crystallized substance, one containing white powder, an orange baggie with a pill, a baggie with suspected marijuana, rolling papers, a torch and a green square box containing suspected THC residue. The bill of particulars said the suspected narcotics were sent to BCI for analysis and the white powder was found to contain meth, while the off-white powder was found to contain heroin.

In another case, Amber Blankenship, 32, West Union, was sentenced to three years of community control for one count of aggravated possession of a Fentanyl-related compound, a fifth-degree felony.

According to the judgment entry from the court, Blankenship was also ordered to comply with all the requirements and conditions in the Drug Court Docket program. It said if Blankenship violated any of the community control sanctions or drug court docket conditions, she must serve a sentence of 12 months in prison and pay a fine of $2,500.

According to a bill of particulars, on Sept. 24, 2020, the Hillsboro Police Department received a 911 transfer call that was in reference to a report of a white van that hit a motorcycle on North West Street in Hillsboro and then fled the scene. An officer responded and then saw a motorcycle in the roadway. A male subject that was on the scene told the officer that the white van pulled into the grassy area north of the crash scene. The officer located the van in a grassy area on Springlake Avenue, saw a white jeep was parked behind the van and the Jeep was attempting to back away.

The officer pulled behind the Jeep and saw that Blankenship was the driver. The officer asked Blankenship what she was doing and she said she was checking on someone. The officer asked Blankenship for permission to search the Jeep, which Blankenship granted, according to court documents

Blankenship then admitted that she had marijuana in the center console and also had an active warrant from the Highland County Sheriff’s Office. The officer searched the Jeep and found a pill bottle containing marijuana in the center console and a Crown Royal bag under the driver’s seat. The officer found three hypodermic needles, a white substance wrapped in cellophane, cellophane with a blue pill, a white substance inside a black plastic baggie, a white substance inside an orange plastic baggie and a paper fold containing white residue inside the Crown Royal bag, according to records.

The suspected narcotics were submitted to BCI for analysis. The white substance wrapped in cellophane, the white substance in the black plastic baggie and the white substance in the orange plastic baggie were all found to contain Fentanyl, according to records.

Clayton Collins, 24, Hillsboro, was sentenced to three years of community control for one count of failure to comply with order or signal of a police officer, a third-degree felony.

Court records said Collins also must complete the recommended treatment program and aftercare and had his driver’s license suspended for three years.

On or around May 15, 2021, according to court records, a sergeant tried to stop a black Honda because the registration came back to a white Chevrolet truck. When the sergeant turned his lights and sirens on to stop the Honda, the driver accelerated and turned onto S.R. 138 toward Greenfield and an ensuing chase reached 100 miles per hour “very quickly.” When the black Honda passed Stoney Point Road, the chase went to 120 miles per hour. As the Honda neared S.R. 771, it turned left and accelerated quickly.

Records state that when the vehicle reached the first curve to the right on S.R. 771, the driver lost control, slid across the road and went through a fence. The sergeant saw the driver exit the vehicle and flee up the hill into a hay field on foot. The sergeant chased the driver but couldn’t catch him. The Greenfield Police Department brought its K-9 unit to track the driver but couldn’t locate him. However, the sergeant found mail in the vehicle that belonged to 24-year-old Collins.

Shortly after the chase, somebody called the Highland County Sheriff’s Office and said an Amish male was approached by a male that asked for a ride to Leesburg. The caller then said they were in a horse and buggy and were headed toward Leesburg. A sergeant and deputy neared the carriage, performed a traffic stop and found Collins was inside. He was arrested and returned to the crash scene, according to court records.

Edward Farris, Ironton, 20, was sentenced to three years of community control on one count of retaliation, a third-degree felony.

The judgment entry said Farris must successfully complete the United Health Recovery Treatment Program and Aftercare and have no contact with a victim.

According to court records, he admitted to sending threatening messages.

Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.

By Jacob Clary

jclary@aimmediamidwest.com