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The Journal Gazette

Friday, February 09, 2018 1:40 pm

3-year sentence issued in criminal recklessness case

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

A New Haven man was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for firing a gun at a mobile home in June, endangering a man's life.

Derek A. Saylor, 40, was also accused of shooting at his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend and the mobile home they were in that same night, but prosecutors dismissed three criminal recklessness charges detailing those allegations.

Saylor pleaded guilty to another criminal recklessness charge alleging he fired shots into another mobile home, putting the life of the man who lived there in peril.

Donald Swanson, Saylor's attorney, asked that Saylor be placed on probation. Saylor admitted responsibility, expressed remorse and is paying for his daughter's college tuition, Swanson said.

But Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Tasha Lee said Saylor should serve time behind bars and that she'd be open to home detention. She described the terror experienced by the people who live in the mobile home at which Saylor admitted shooting.

"This could have been a homicide case, but it's not, thankfully," Lee said.

Allen Superior Judge John Surbeck said he didn't think he was getting the entire story of what really happened. He noted that two key witnesses weren't in the courtroom.

"I don't think Mr. Saylor is being candid with us, either," the judge said.

Visibly frustrated by the lack of information, Surbeck sentenced Saylor to three years behind bars.

Upset with the sentence, Saylor said he will appeal.

According to court documents, Saylor rode his blue Harley-Davidson motorcycle to a mobile home around 11 p.m. June 8 to pay his ex-girlfriend the $500 he owed her for shooting out the windows of her car.

He waved the money in the air, and the woman's current boyfriend stepped out to see what was going on, court records said.

Saylor got off his bike and started shooting a revolver at the boyfriend. A brown Astro minivan pulled up, and when Saylor's gun was empty, he ran to the van, where the driver passed him another gun, court documents said.

At this time, court records said, both Saylor and the van driver were shooting at the mobile home, and Saylor used the van as cover.

Police found 9 mm shell casings in the road and one 9 mm live round on the shoulder of the road.

The mobile home had three bullet holes in the front. Two of the bullets had penetrated a bedroom wall adjacent to the kitchen and the bullets were found on a couch and a bed, court documents said. Another bullet struck the air conditioner on the side of the home.

Bullets also struck the trailer behind the woman's mobile home.

While the shooting was being investigated, Allen County sheriff's deputies were alerted to a motorcycle crash near Hoagland Road. The driver fled on foot east to a northern tree line. The description of the driver matched Saylor.

Police set up a perimeter at the crash site and searched until 1:30 a.m.

The next day, officers were called about a man down in a yard. When they got there, Saylor had apparently hidden inside a car in a garage, court documents said. Officers found Saylor and had him transported to a hospital for treatment of his injuries from the night before.

jchapman@jg.net