During a preliminary hearing Tuesday in Butler County Area III Court, Ohio State Trooper Justin Valentine testified he was parked in the median of the northbound lanes watching traffic early on the morning of Oct. 22 when a vehicle pulled up to report the incident.
“They (occupants of the vehicle) stated there was a body in the road on the southbound side,” Valentine said.
The trooper then went to the scene and found Sharp in the road, a motorcycle and Howard in his Acura pulled to the side of the interstate.
Howard was sitting in the driver’s seat, according to the trooper.
“His (Howard) speech was slow and slurred,” Valentine said, adding Howard smelled strongly of alcohol.
The trooper said Howard “performed poorly” on field sobriety tests.
Initially, Howard said he had not been consuming alcohol, Valentine said. But later Howard said he last consumed an alcoholic beverage at 1 a.m., the trooper said.
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Trooper Nathan Stanfield , investigator for the Ohio Highway Patrol, testified that witness testimony as well as ODOT camera footage indicate Howard’s vehicle was speeding seconds before the crash occurred.
Stanfield said Howard told him he had consumed three alcoholic beverages.
“He (Howard) told me he nodded off and struck the motorcycle,” Stanfield said.
Howard declined an alcohol test at the West Chester Police Department, so troopers got a search warrant for a blood test.
During questioning by Howard’s attorney Herb Haas, Stanfield said a miscommunication about the hospital that was permitted to perform the blood test resulted in two tests being performed — one at 8:30 a.m. and the other nearly three hours later.
After the hearing, Judge Dan Haughey found sufficient evidence to bind the case over to a grand jury for consideration.
Haas requested bond be reduced, noting Howard was cooperative with law enforcement, did not leave the scene of the crash and has no prior record. But the judge continued the same bond with the 10 percent rule.
Sharp worked at Steelcraft in Blue Ash and often stayed with his girlfriend in Middletown, according to family members. He was heading to work at the time of the accident, his family said.
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