By Rick Reitzel, WCMH - LOCKBOURNE, Ohio (WCMH) - As communities continue to deal with the opioid epidemic, one Ohio man took the law into his own hands by nearly beating a heroin addict to death.
His punishment was probation and some in the community say they support him.
It was at a Decker Street home in Lockbourne on December 9 when Edwin "Tony" Sobony, 38, beat a man severely with a baseball bat after authorities said the man continued to share heroin with Sobony's wife.
Sobony was convicted in September by a Franklin County Court jury for felonious assault, and the judge in the case gave him two years' probation.
Presiding Judge Charles Schneider said he examined all the facts in the case, along with a pre-sentence report and Sobony's spotless record.
"I took all those things into consideration and overcame the presumption, and I am comfortable with my decision," Schneider said.
He reminds people that they cannot take the law into their own hands.
"I in no way support what Mr. Sobony did. I appreciate the frustration but that does not support or condone vigilante justice," he said.
Since his conviction, Sobony has gotten hundreds of letters and online comments supporting him and what he did.
A Lockbourne neighbor who knows Sobony and his victim said, "I know what he did looks horrible on him but if people would realize what he did was to protect his children, and those children's lives mean more than anything to me."
On the other hand, a village councilwoman says she does not condone violence.
"I can understand Tony's frustration but nobody, and I don't care who or what you have done, deserves to be beat to a pulp with a ball bat," Jenny Lozier said.
NBC4 spoke with the victim, and he admits to being a heroin addict but says his skull was split open, 11 of his teeth were knocked out and he is blind in one eye.
He said he does not think the crime fits the punishment.
Lozier said this could have been avoided.
"We love our village and just want it to be cleaned up," she said. "If we call law enforcement, we would like to see something get done."
Before his conviction, the judge said Sobony told jurors he acted a little aggressively but was just trying to protect his family.
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