The family of a Northeastern High School graduate who died in a shooting said they want to see the accused man serve jail time, even if it was accidental.
His defense attorney, though, believes that he shouldn’t go to jail.
Dustin T. Olwin, 28, of 932 Barker Drive, is accused of fatally shooting Eric M. Wheeler on Dec. 30. Olwin was arraigned Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony; reckless homicide, a third-degree felony; and negligent homicide and using weapons while intoxicated, both first-degree misdemeanors.
Wheelers’ family members attended court Tuesday, including his stepfather, Tim Reisinger.
“I think he needs a little jail time. I think he needs jail time and a good rehab program. Not a country club,” Reisinger said.
Since the shooting, Olwin spent 30 days in a rehabilitation center in Cleveland, according to his defense attorney Jon Paul Rion.
“There’s been a lot of soul searching that goes on with a tragedy like this. He admitted himself into some treatment. He’s done a lot to make sure that he’s dealing with this in the appropriate way,” Rion said.
Olwin and Wheeler worked at Navistar together and were friends. The two were drinking at Olwin’s house Dec. 30 and “screwing around” with a 9 mm pistol, according to the 9-1-1 call, when Olwin shot Wheeler in the abdomen “by accident.”
Rion argued because the death was an accident, it doesn’t merit jail time and shouldn’t prohibit him “from realizing the dreams of this life.”
“I don’t think you have to punish accidents by putting people in jail. That doesn’t seem like a rational response to an accident,” Rion said. “Our criminal justice system is built on people doing things intentionally and those people are treated differently than things that happen accidentally.”
The Clark County Prosecutor’s Office couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Reisinger argued, though, the shooting is no different than driving drunk and killing someone.
“If he was driving a car and this would have happened, same thing, he would have gone to jail,” he said.
Wheeler’s mother, Melissa Wheeler-Reisinger, said she hopes Olwin gets help and works to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
“I would like to see him get drug and alcohol rehabilitation, I would like to see him never own a gun again and I would like to see him go out to every school in Ohio and Clark County and tell his story,” she said.
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