Hit-and-run driver sentenced

  • By Tara Kinsell January 22, 2013
Maris Chandler, left, of Clarksville, received a 9- to 23-month jail sentence Tuesday resulting from his conviction last September he struck a 24-year-old woman with his car and dragged her 100 feet during a disturbance at a tavern in Jefferson. Chandler was photographed with his attorney, Blaine Jones, following the jury’s verdict last year. - Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

WAYNESBURG – A 24-year-old Clarksville man, who was found guilty Sept. 18 of aggravated assault by vehicle and accidents involving death or personal injury following an altercation outside a Jefferson Township drinking establishment on New Year’s Day 2012, was sentenced Wednesday in Greene County Court.

Maris Chandler Jr. was sentenced by Judge William Nalitz to 9 to 23 months in jail for striking 24-year-old Chelsie Robinson with his car and dragging her 100 feet from the parking lot of Ozy’s Bar on Pitt Gas Road. Chandler was found not guilty of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment during his jury trial last year.

Assistant District Attorney Linda Chambers said she thought the sentence was fair.

“I know it is hard for Chelsie to understand why 9 months is the penalty for what happened to her because her injuries were so severe,” said Chambers. “The judge followed the sentencing guidelines. He didn’t make it the high end or the low end. He went in the midrange.”

Pittsburgh attorney Blaine Jones, who represented Chandler, said he respected the court and its decision but was still disappointed. He also noted it could have been much worse if the jury had found him guilty of the more serious charges. These could have resulted in a state prison sentence of at least 3 to 6 years, according to Jones.

“I do acknowledge her injuries are serious and wish her a complete and speedy recovery,” Jones said. He went on to recount the things Chandler testified to in court about the night of the incident.

Chandler told the court he was confronted in the parking lot by a group of people he believed posed a threat to his life. He said when he saw a gap in the crowd of people in the parking he drove through it and sped away, claiming he had no idea he had struck Robinson. Jones said the fact remained that Chandler was not drinking on the night he hit Robinson and he fled the scene out of fear from a group of people who he believed he had reason to fear.

“They were yelling racial slurs at him and threatening him. What would you have done?” Jones asked.

Chambers said it was never proven Chandler was not drinking.

“We have no way of knowing. He ran and was gone for 10 days so we weren’t able to test him that night,” she said.

In addition to jail time with credit for time served, Chandler was ordered to pay all court costs, fees and $2,000 in fines.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.


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