Murder trial ends in plea deal


The trial of Todd Lane came to a sudden conclusion Wednesday when both sides agreed to a deal.
Lane, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter, a felony of the first degree, and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony.
Lane was in the third day of his murder trial in the death of his friend and roommate, John Dixon. The jury had not been seated for the morning.
“We have had a long morning of negotiations between the parties,” Common Pleas Court Judge Don Fraser said.
As part of the agreement to have Lane plead guilty, prosecutors amended the murder charge to involuntary manslaughter and dropped a felonious assault charge against him.
Union County Prosecutor Dave Phillips said prior to making the deal, he spoke with Dixon’s family members.
“They were in agreement with us going forward,” Phillips said.
While the plea was agreed to, a sentence was not. Fraser said no joint sentencing recommendation was offered. The attorneys will argue sentencing at a later hearing.
According to the agreement, signed by both the state and the defendant, the involuntary manslaughter was a first degree felony, the result of Lane committing or attempting to commit another felony offense, and carries a mandatory sentence of up to 11 years in prison. The tampering with evidence charge could mean an additional five years in prison. A murder conviction would have carried a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years to life.
In Ohio, involuntary manslaughter means the defendant caused the death of another person as the result of committing or attempting to commit another crime. Unlike a murder charge, involuntary manslaughter means the defendant didn’t intend to kill anyone, but someone did die while the defendant was committing another crime.
Defense attorney Sam Shamansky acknowledged Lane caused Dixon’s death, “as a result of the felonious assault.”
Under Ohio law, if a person was killed as the result of a felony crime, the involuntary manslaughter is charged as a first-degree felony with a mandatory prison sentence of three to 11 years. If the death is the result of a misdemeanor crime, it is charged as a third-degree felony with no mandatory sentence.
While Lane pleaded to the first-degree felony charge, Shamansky told the judge he is not sure there is a mandatory prison sentence attached.
The attorneys have agreed to argue that issue at a later date, likely before a sentencing hearing
Fraser did not set a date for sentencing. Officials will need to conduct a presentence investigation before Lane is sentenced.
Lane is in Tri-County Regional Jail with bond set at $500,000.
According to testimony during the trial, on May 26, Lane and several friends were at a bar. Lane left early, shortly after Dixon arrived. When the bar closed, Dixon went home with several friends.
One of those friends said she did not want to drive home, so she went to lie down in Lane’s room, unaware he was home. She said Lane agreed she could and the two went to sleep. The woman said that at some point Dixon came upstairs and the men began to fight quickly. She said the men were fighting in the hallway and it was a period of time before she could get past and go downstairs to get help. Another man testified he was also at the house. He said he went upstairs to break up the fight and Lane began to fight with him.
Lane allegedly bit that man on the face, pulled his hair and scratched him.
According to law enforcement officials, the fight ended at 4:31 a.m., and Dixon called 911. Dixon initially gave dispatchers the wrong address and confirmed it. The error delayed first responders.
When police arrived at the address given by Dixon, they found Lane standing over Dixon, who was face down on the porch with a head injury and not breathing.
Lane allegedly ran into the home where officers tackled and arrested him.
Dixon stopped breathing on the way to Memorial Hospital but was revived and taken to The Ohio State University Medical Center. Officials there determined he was brain dead. Dixon was kept on life support until family members could come to the hospital and his organs could be harvested for donation. Dixon died May 29, at The Ohio State University Medical Center.
Shamansky argued that Dixon was drunk, overweight and had a bad heart. The defense attorney argued that after calling for police, Dixon passed out, either from being drunk or a heart attack. He said that when Dixon passed out, he fell from his chair and hit his face on the ground.
During the trial, jurors saw video of Lane at the police station, shortly after his arrest. The video showed Marysville Police Officer Jason Rowe photographing Lane then putting him into a holding cell.
“I’d rather you not wash our hands,” Rowe told Lane, explaining that detectives might want to see the blood on him.
Shortly after the officer left, Lane went to the bathroom then washed his hands after. He also took paper towels, wet them, then wiped the blood from his legs and feet.

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