Greenville man avoids prison for sword assault of friend

By Ilene Haluska ihaluska@civitasmedia.com

May 11, 2014

DARKE COUNTY - One Darke County man sentenced Friday at the Darke County Courthouse for cutting a friend with a sword last year says he wants to turn his life around to have a better life.

“I wouldn’t have gotten this far without God,” said Chris Vanata, 27, of Greenville. The young man with the support of the Pleasant View Missionary Church of Greenville, family and friends at the sentencing showed much remorse for hurting his friend during an assault last fall.

Clutching a Bible, Vanata told the court that he has a job, is living with friends and checked himself into a drug rehabilitation program.

According to a filed complaint, Vanata caused harm to his friend, Joshua S. Day, a second degree felony, last November. Vanata’s history includes charges of domestic violence, assault, DUIs, disorderly conduct, alcohol and drug abuse, and traffic offenses.

Sentencing includes serving 30 days with work release, maintaining employment and proof of earnings, entering substance programming, mental health counseling, no use of alcohol and illegal drugs, 100 hours of community service and paying court costs.

Defense Attorney R. Kelly Ormsby III said that the victim in the assault case did not want to see that his friend was imprisoned and that Vanata has mental health and alcohol issues when the assault happened and preferred that he get help and do community service.

Defense Attorney Paul Wagner said Vanata made several changes like working with Darke County Recovery Services, where he is still doing it and doing well.

“The other thing he’s done and we don’t see very often, is he has changed his peer group pretty radically,” Wagner said. “He has support here today from the Missionary Church, pastor and several friends. He has been pretty steadfast in maintaining a relationship with them and it’s not sketchy. … It shows a change in his life, more than just lip service.”

Vanata added that he feels horrible about the situation and is regretful.

“I can’t take it back. If I could go back and change it I would,” Vanata added, saying he wants his life to get better, change and move forward.

Scott Hobbs, an elder at the Missionary Church told the judge that Vanata has done community service and the Breaking Free by Neil Anderson program, has been making huge changes, is diligent in being in church, accepting Christ and seeing changes in his family.

“We don’t see this very often,” said Judge Hein. There’s not a lot of support for 20 to 30-years-old guys in the streets. To an extent you guys [Vanata’s supporters] being here is an encouragement. People can’t go through life alone especially with bad influences, and the influences now are a lot more negative than 30 years ago. In a week, it could go from good to bad if you let your guard down. This is a community control or local sanction, Hein explained.

“In the end Mr. Vanata, you own the responsibility to improve,” Hein said.

Hein later referred to this philosophically, explaining that after an individual has served his time and changed their lives over several years, society has the responsibility to accept the person. He referred to the Darke County Chamber of Commerce, which is working toward an initiative on reducing drugs in the county.