By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — A Syracuse woman will serve 10 years in prison after operating a vehicle with opiates in her system, resulting in a serious vehicle accident and the death of a Claypool man.
In the first case, Leslie Ann Patrick, 41, 4484 E. CR 1300N, Syracuse, was charged with two counts of causing death when operating a motor vehicle with a controlled substance in the body, both level 4 felonies. Patrick was also charged with three counts of forgery, all level 6 felonies, in a second case.
Patrick was sentenced in Kosciusko Superior Court Three on Tuesday, Jan. 12, with Kosciusko Superior Court 2 Judge Torrey Bauer presiding over the cases.
On Aug. 11, 2018, Patrick was operating a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado and traveling north on CR 500W when she failed to notice a 2013 GMC truck heading west on US 30 and the two vehicles collided. When officers arrived at the scene, Patrick and a passenger, Kevin L. Hobbs, 53, Claypool, were still inside the Silverado.
Patrick and Hobbs, as well as the driver of the GMC truck, were taken to the hospital after the accident. Hobbs passed away seven days later from injuries sustained in the accident.
Court documents state an investigative subpoena was issued to obtain toxicology results for Patrick. Results indicated that Patrick had opiates and marijuana in her system at the time of the crash.
In August 2018, Kosciusko County Sheriff’s officers were called by a woman who told officers that Patrick was writing checks on Hobbs’ account and forging his name. The woman also said Patrick signed Hobbs’ name to the title of his pickup truck. Officers obtained a copy of the title, which showed the purchasing information as Patrick.
Patrick admitted to signing two checks — one for $250 on Aug. 15, 2018, and one for $150 on Aug. 17, 2018 — and signing the truck title. She also told police she used a check for a purchase that had been written and signed by Hobbs the day before the accident for $150.
Penny Short, Hobbs’ sister, was called for testimony by the state. Short said she has been managing Hobbs’ estate since he passed away. The family has approximately $197,000 in hospital bills for Hobbs’ care after the accident. Short asked Judge Bauer to consider the importance of giving harsh sentences to intoxicated drivers.
“This should not go down as a victimless crime,” said Short.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Sobek noted that Patrick had three different controlled substances in her system while driving and that she victimized Hobbs further by forging his name on checks.
“That’s about as cold as it gets,” said Sobek.
Sobek asked Judge Bauer to sentence Patrick on the maximum executed time allowed in the plea agreement.
Defense Attorney Tony Garza said Patrick has a criminal history and issues with drug and alcohol use. He explained to the court that Patrick has expressed remorse for her actions by pleading guilty.
“The past few months, I’ve taken time to think about the pain I’ve caused,” said Patrick. “I’ve learned how to look to God for answers.”
Patrick apologized to the Hobbs family for her actions.
“I don’t think I could ever forgive myself 100% and I know you don’t either,” said Patrick, becoming emotional. “But I need you to know how much I loved him. I will always miss and love him.”
Prior to sentencing, Judge Bauer noted Patrick’s history with drugs and alcohol. He also said Patrick had three different felony drug possession cases filed against her after the accident.
“It was a full year after the accident and you were still using (drugs),” said Judge Bauer. “You got behind a wheel and Kevin Hobbs is now dead. There’s nothing more tragic and vile than unnecessary death. Your sadness pales in comparison to the unified grief of the Hobbs family.”
In the vehicle accident case, Judge Bauer sentenced Patrick to 10 years in prison. For each count of forgery, Patrick received a one-year suspended jail sentence. All three forgery counts will be served consecutively. Both cases will be served consecutively to one another and consecutively to two other criminal cases.
In total, Patrick was sentenced to 10 years in prison; following her release, she will be on probation for three years.
Patrick must also pay the following in restitution: $550 to Hobbs’ estate on the forgery incidents; $4,030 on a vehicle involved in the accident; $3,152.65 for Hobbs’ funeral expenses; and approximately $197,000 for Hobbs’ medical expenses.
Her driver’s license was also suspended for 12 years.