‘Menace to society’ pleads guilty to crash that nearly killed retired Cincinnati firefighter

Updated: Mar. 2, 2020 at 11:03 AM EST
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A driver described by authorities as a “menace to society” pleaded guilty Monday to causing a crash that nearly killed a retired Cincinnati firefighter two years ago.

Mark Newton, 34, was sentenced to five years in prison with credit for the past two years he’s served at the Hamilton County jail. He also cannot apply to get a driver’s license for 10 years.

The trial was expected to begin Monday after several delays in the case, ones that have frustrated Bill DeRemer and his family.

Newton’s attorneys recently filed a motion to throw out results of his blood test that showed he had drugs in his system at the time of the crash.

The victim’s daughter, Jenny DeRemer, said prosecutors have told her the test likely would have been tossed had the case gone to trial because it was not done at a hospital.

Newton was driving a stolen van and fleeing a Hamilton County deputy sheriff when the vehicle crashed into Bill DeRemer’s SUV near DeRemer’s Green Township home on Jan. 11, 2018, sheriff’s officials have said.

The Vietnam veteran was in a coma for eight days at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

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DeRemer, who was 77 at the time, suffered 13 broken ribs; a broken pelvis, broken sternum, broken collarbone, broken bones in his back, bleeding on his brain and a broken bone in his sinus cavity as well as multiple lacerations that had to be stitched up, according to his daughter.

Jenny DeRemer said her father had to learn to do everything all over again: Talk, walk, eat. He still has some brain damage and memory lapses.

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Newton also pleaded guilty Monday a charge of possession of drugs while an inmate at the Hamilton County Justice Center.

Newton was found with the opioid addiction-withdrawal drug Suboxone at the jail Dec 5 after sheriff’s officials received a tip, court and sheriff’s records show.

It was not the first time Newton’s gotten into trouble at the jail.

Newton was charged with assault in October 2018 after he got into a fight with another inmate, court records show. The case was later dismissed when the inmate, who by then had been released from the jail, failed to show up for court.

It’s the latest in a long line of arrests and driving violations for Newton, who has never even held a driver’s license in the state of Ohio, according to state and local records.

Newton has spent his life in and out of county jails and state prisons, records show.

Just over a month before the crash in December 2017, he was charged with OVI by Blue Ash police, according to his citation. He was found asleep behind the wheel of a stolen minivan.

Newton was released just one month prior, in November 2017, from his third prison stint since 2008, state and county records state.

The day after the crash that nearly killed DeRemer, a sheriff’s official went before the judge at Newton’s first arraignment in the case and described him as “a menace to society.”

"He has no due regard for anybody in society. He only worries about himself," Corporal Tom Lang said, urging the judge to set a high bond. "He tried to walk away from the hospital last night. He's a flight risk."

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Jenny DeRemer said she wonders why someone considered a career criminal and “menace to society” kept getting what seems like so many second chances. It pains her and she remains troubled at how her father, a family man who devoted his life to serving his community as a firefighter and his nation as a Vietnam vet, was nearly taken from her like this.

She has told FOX19 NOW she’s lost faith in the criminal justice system because it seems like criminals, not the victims, have all the rights.

She said the family just wants closure at this point. The experience, she said, has galvanized her to push for harsher sentences for career criminals like Newton.

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