YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Even the judge agrees, if Brian Chrystal had just pulled over in August at an OVI checkpoint, he wouldn’t be going to prison.
Instead, Chrystal, 41, did a U-turn and led police on a 30-minute chase from the South Side to his home in Salem.
Chrystal, who pleaded guilty in December to a third-degree felony charge of failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, was sentenced Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to nine months in prison.
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum, who handed down the sentence, asked Chrystal why he didn’t stop.
“From previous experiences, everything told me to go home,” said Chrystal, who told the judge he had an encounter with police in Florida where he said he was “severely attacked.”
“I was scared of all the police involved,” Chrystal said.
Assistant Prosecutor Steven Maszczak said the state was recommending Chrystal serve nine months in prison. He said Chrystal led police on a chase Aug. 13 from Glenwood Avenue to Salem, at times at speeds of 80 miles per hour.
Maszczak said when Chrystal finally stopped after police used stop sticks, he was cooperative with police and did not appear to be under the influence of anything. Chances are he would not have even received a citation, Maszczak said.
Chrystal has a couple of misdemeanor convictions, including an OVI in 2021, Maszczak said.
Defense attorney Chris Maruca called his client’s actions “perplexing.” He asked for probation with local jail time as part of the sentence.
“My client just didn’t stop,” Maruca said. “He understands what he did was wrong. If he would’ve went through that checkpoint, he would’ve been fine.”
Maruca also said a large part of the chase was at moderate speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour, but his client just would not pull over.
Chrystal said since he has been free on bond he has had a chance to “refocus,” and he asked for a lenient sentence so he could care for his son.
“It’s the biggest mistake of my life,” Chrystal said.
Judge Krichbaum told Chrystal he was baffled why he didn’t just stop.
“It’s just too bizarre a situation to put you on probation and say ‘don’t do that again.'”
Judge Krichbaum said he was concerned about the high speed for part of the chase and what he called “disrespect” of the police.
“This is only a nine-month sentence because you haven’t been there more,” Judge Krichbaum said.