CLEARFIELD – An Ohio man charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence in an accident that killed his brother pleaded guilty to lesser charges Monday during colloquy court with sentencing.
In December of 2018, the vehicle that John J. Levanduski, now 52, was driving in Huston Township, left state Route 255, went off the berm and struck a tree with the front passenger side before spinning clockwise, then stopping, according to the affidavit.
Levanduski had to be mechanically extricated from the vehicle prior to his being flown for treatment at UPMC Altoona. His brother, Kenneth, was deceased.
District Attorney Ryan Sayers described this as “a tough case” due to Levanduski losing a family member. He explained there were difficult discussions over several months to resolve the case.
“It is the Commonwealth’s responsibility to seek justice, not just incarceration,” he told President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman.
The victim’s family felt sympathy for Levanduski since he had suffered the loss as well and has to live every day knowing he killed his brother, Sayers said.
Defense attorney Brian Manchester went on to say that not only was the family not looking for a long sentence in this case, they had written letters in support of Levanduski. He asked for a probation only sentence for his client.
Several other family members including the victim’s children addressed the court saying they felt he had been punished enough already.
Another brother, James, spoke up saying John was a “good friend to a lot of people” and that if anyone needed help, they could call on him.
Levanduski himself told Ammerman that he couldn’t apologize enough to his family and thanked them for their support. He noted that he would live with this incident for the rest of his life and asked for mercy.
Ammerman pointed out that the more serious charges, including homicide by vehicle while DUI, which carried a three-year minimum sentence, had been dropped in this plea agreement.
He also stated that he had never received so many letters in favor of a defendant as Manchester provided 50 letters in support of Levanduski.
Levanduski pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle and three traffic summaries for which Ammerman sentenced him to six months to one year in the county jail with two years consecutive probation.
After the sentencing, his family members appeared surprised and upset that Levanduski was given any jail time in this case.
The criminal complaint details that on the night of the accident, Levanduski and his brother were drinking at the Penfield Fireman’s Club.
A witness told investigations the victim got into a disagreement with someone and said he was going to leave and walk to a hunting camp.
Because Levanduski was also leaving, he said he couldn’t let his brother walk and offered to drive him back to the camp.
Medical records revealed that Levanduski’s blood alcohol content was 0.160 percent.