NEW PHILADELPHIA — The last of three men sentenced for a Dec. 5 shooting and robbery near Newcomerstown has been ordered to serve a combined 22 years in prison for those crimes and an earlier firearms case from the southern Tuscarawas County village.
On Sept. 17, Common Pleas Judge Edward O'Farrell sentenced Douglas M. Casteel, 30, to eight years on three attempted murder charges, eight years for aggravated robbery and three years for using a gun in a drive-by shooting. The sentences were part of a negotiated agreement in which Casteel pleaded guilty to those crimes in addition to felonious assault and conspiracy.
Also this morning, Common Pleas Judge Elizabeth Lehigh Thomakos sentenced Casteel to 7 1/2 years in prison for having a weapon as a convicted felon, improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, and using a gun in a crime. The charges arose from an incident in Newcomerstown on April 20, 2018.
O'Farrell ordered that Casteel, formerly of Newcomerstown, serve the sentence he imposed at the same time as the 4 1/2 years ordered by Thomakos for illegal weapons possession and handling. The three-year specifications for using a gun in each incident will be served separately.
The length of Casteel’s prison sentence is to be reduced by the amount of time already served in the county jail, which is more than 280 days. He could ask a judge for early release, but is not guaranteed to receive it.
Two other defendants in the Dec. 5 case, Lucian A. Lambes and Ian A. Cultrona, are serving 19 and 11 years, respectively, for their convictions. A fourth suspect, Samantha S. Owen, is expected to plead guilty this afternoon to reduced charges in exchange for her testimony against her codefendants. All four originally were indicted on identical charges.
A 17-year-old boy had a fingertip shot off in the gunshot-filled chase that followed the armed robbery outside Newcomerstown.
Before pronouncing the sentence, Judge Thomakos recapped Casteel's criminal history, a factor indicating whether he was likely to commit more crimes. She said he had previous felony convictions for crimes of violence, three misdemeanor domestic violence convictions, multiple felony thefts, and a juvenile conviction for burglary.
She said the scale used to determine the likelihood of recidivism tops out at 34. Casteel's score was 40.
The judge said Casteel's presentence investigation revealed he began using marijuana and cocaine at age 14. She said he had failed three mental health treatment programs, failed drug court, and failed to complete a community corrections program.
Defense attorney Anthony Wolters, of Canton, said Casteel had suffered abuse as a child, and "never had a chance."
"What Mr. Casteel needs is help, not necessarily just incarceration," he said.
"I think it's inaccurate to say you never had a chance," Thomakos said, adding that help had been offered to Casteel repeatedly. "Certainly, things that happen to you as a child are not your fault, but what you do as an adult is your responsibility."
Assistant prosecutor Michael Ernest said Casteel had caused problems in Newcomerstown, including committing violent crimes. He said it was never determined who fired shots during the Dec. 5 robbery. Lambes and Casteel were in a car that pursued the robbery victims.
In addition to paying court costs for both cases, Casteel was ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution for damage to the robbery target's sport utility vehicle. Thomakos said Casteel receives Supplemental Security Income.
Thomakos appointed Cambridge attorney Lindsey Donehue-Angler to represent Casteel in the appeal on the weapons case.