A court date has been set for the motorist accused of hitting and killing a bicyclist with her vehicle before leaving the scene in September.
Mary Kathryn Paul, 36, of Westerville, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and failure to stop in the death of Robert Lennon, 64, a science teacher and cross country coach at St. Frances DeSales High School, who was found dead on Miller-Paul Road a mile from the suspect’s family home Sept. 15. Both charges are third-degree felonies and would carry up to a combined six years in prison.
Paul is expected to plead guilty when she goes before Judge John W. Kessler, a visiting judge assigned to the case by the Ohio Supreme Court, 1 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.
“These court proceedings will be the first opportunity for Ms. Paul to formally waive her right to a Grand Jury indictment and to thereafter enter pleas to those charges,” said Special Prosecutor Kenneth Oswalt in a statement released Friday. “In the event that Ms. Paul carries through with her counsel’s representation that she will enter guilty pleas to the two charges (and I have no reason to doubt that she still intends to do that), although it will be up to Judge Kessler, I do not expect sentencing to occur at this same proceeding.”
The court date comes just over three months after the incident on Miller-Paul Road. Charges against Paul were filed Nov. 15.
Oswalt, the Licking County Prosecutor who is acting as special prosecutor in the case due to a potential conflict of interest created by Paul’s father, who is a Harlem Township trustee, said it is not unusual for investigations to take two months when a suspect is not apprehended immediately or at the scene. The length of time between Lennon’s death and the charges brought against Paul reflects a thorough investigation and “doing things right,” Oswalt told reporters at the press conference to announce charges.
In the statement released Friday, Oswalt said he will not make any additional comments about the case until the Dec. 16 court date.
Paul was first identified as a possible suspect the day after The Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI held a joint press conference Sept. 19, asking for witnesses to come forward. Authorities said they were looking for a vehicle they believed to be involved, based on debris found at the accident scene.
Paul’s car was located that evening at a home on Miller-Paul Road, about a mile from where Lennon’s body was found, after a member of the suspect’s family called Delaware County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Larry Dore and asked him to come to the Miller-Paul Road home, according to a search warrant.
Dore was asked to inspect a damaged vehicle, which the suspect claimed was from striking a deer. Dore said the damage was inconsistent with striking a deer. OSHP Sgt. Marcus Pirrone was contacted by Dore, and agreed the damage matched what they knew of the collision involving Lennon.
At that time, the investigation began to focus on Paul, though initially it was thought there may have been a second vehicle following Paul’s car at the time of the accident. No charges against any other person has been filed at this time, though Oswalt said the investigation will continue.
Lennon’s sister, Jeanne Lennon, spoke at the press conference to announce charges against Paul. She said that her family agreed with the charges against Paul and had been in frequent contact with the OSHP during the investigation.
“I’m glad this is coming to an end,” she said.