Piqua man sentenced to prison

Austin Stahl, 21, was in possession of gun, drugs and fled from police

By Melanie Yingst - myingst@aimmediamidwest.com


MIAMI COUNTY — A Piqua man involved in police chase in January was sentenced in Miami County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday.

Austin Stahl, 21, of Piqua, was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison for third-degree tampering with evidence and weapons under disability and one count of fourth-degree complicity drug trafficking. Stahl’s sentences will run concurrent with one another.

In exchange for a guilty plea, the state agreed to dismiss three counts of felony drug trafficking charges and a fifth-degree failure to comply. It was Stahl’s first felony offense. He was being held in jail due to violating his probation .

Stahl said being in jail was an “eye opening” experience, apologized to the community and said his first priority was his daughter.

Miami County Assistant Prosecutor Janna Parker said Stahl was a danger to the community, noting he tried to get rid of a gun and had large amounts of drugs found in a backpack on the scene.

Judge Christopher Gee said he was concerned with the amount of drugs, including meth, and the gun cleaner inside the backpack. Stahl claimed he didn’t know what was in the backpack, until Judge Gee pointed out Stahl’s ID was inside the bag. Gee also noted it was Stahl who encouraged the driver to flee from officers.

Judge Gee called Stahl’s behavior “ridiculous.” A Troy Police Department officer injured his hand as he deployed stop sticks to stop the vehicle.

“Guns, drugs and people who behave badly are a dangerous combination,” Gee said.

Stahl was a passenger in a 17-mile pursuit that began in Piqua and ended in Troy on Jan. 17, with speeds of more than 100 miles per hour.

Officers recovered guns, heroin and more than 100 grams of methamphetamine following the arrest of Stahl and the driver of the vehicle, Mark Yount, 34, of Dayton.

Yount is currently incarcerated in Shelby County under pending federal charges. Yount was charged with OVI, a third-degree felony failure to comply with police officers, fourth-degree assault, two counts of third-degree trafficking drugs, third-degree felony tampering with evidence and weapons under disability.

A female passenger was also in the vehicle, but was not charged in the incident.

A book bag thrown from the vehicle in the 700 block of Dixie Drive had hypodermic needles, digital scales, a Glock magazine, more than 100 grams of suspected meth, 99 pills of Xanax, seven capsules of suspected heroin and 10 pain pills.

According to reports, Yount was driving the 2016 silver Toyota vehicle in the area of High Street and North Downing Street in Piqua when he made a turn and ran over a curb. A Piqua Police Department officer witnessed Yount’s traffic error and attempted to make a stop. Yount ran a stop light and continued southbound on Downing Street. A pursuit through the county ensued and Miami County Sheriff’s Office deputies picked up the pursuit into Troy in the area of Experiment Farm Road.

The vehicle continued to Stanfield Road and onto McKaig Road, where a Troy Police officer deployed stop sticks. The pursuit continued through Troy and Yount paused long enough to let Stahl and a female passenger out of the vehicle around Union Street. Yount later lost control of the vehicle near Patton and Floral roads and attempted to flee on foot. Parts of a 9mm Glock were found at the scene.

Freels trial is continued

The attorney for the man accused of murdering his wife in January filed for a continuance of Randy Freel’s pretrial conference to May 29.

The motion was filed by Jack Hemm with the public defender’s office. Judge Jeannine Pratt approved the continuance and set the trial date for June 12 and to last four days.

Hemm cited Freel’s psychiatric evaluations, which Judge Pratt approved last month as reason to continue the trial at a later date.

The Ludlow Falls man who allegedly killed his wife was hospitalized, but has returned and is currently listed as an inmate at the Miami County Jail.

According to court records, Randy Freels, 57, was transported to the Twin Valley Behavioral Health Care Center in Columbus for treatment and stabilization on March 17. According to records, Freels was a danger to himself in the Miami County Jail and had attempted to commit suicide prior to being transported to the hospital.

Freels allegedly shot and killed his 52-year-old wife, Samantha, in the area of Elleman Road and West State Route 55 in Union Township on Jan. 12.

The treatment and transfer order was granted by Judge William McGregor Dixon Jr. at the request of prosecutors on behalf of the sheriff’s department, according to records.

Last month, a family member filed a civil lawsuit in Miami County Common Pleas Court against Freels.

Anthony Freels, administrator of the estate of his mother, Samantha Freels, filed the lawsuit, dated Feb. 20, seeking monetary compensation for more than $25,000 in a wrongful death suit in civil court. On March 22, Anthony Freels requested a default judgment against Randy Freels due to his failure to respond to the civil suit.

Last week, Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeannine Pratt ordered Randy Freels to complete a competency evaluation at the Forensic Psychiatry Center for Western Ohio in Dayton to determine if he is competent enough to stand trial. Freels has been charged with four felony counts, including murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence and improperly discharging a firearm.

During his arraignment on Jan. 30, Freels entered a plea of not guilty to all the charges. The murder charge carries a sentence of 15 years to life.

Miami County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of a car off the side of the road during poor road conditions. Units on the scene advised the victim was not breathing. Samantha Freels’ vehicle was located in a creek, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Randy Freels was later apprehended by the Special Response Team at his home in the 2000 block of Rangeline Road.


Austin Stahl, 21, was in possession of gun, drugs and fled from police

By Melanie Yingst