Rock throwing that hurt teacher nets man up to 20 years
Lewisburg, Pa. — One man was sentenced to what could be years in state prison and two others entered guilty pleas Tuesday for a rock throwing incident that left an Ohio schoolteacher with severe brain injuries.
Brett Lahr, 19, received 18 months to 20 years after pleading no contest to a conspiracy count. His brother Dylan Lahr, 18, and a third man, Keefer McGee, 18, could be sentenced next month after admitting to their role in the attack.
The defense attorney for the fourth co-defendant, Tyler Porter, 18, said he was thinking over a plea deal with prosecutors, and Union County Judge Michael Sholley scheduled his trial for late July.
Police have said the four young men were out to cause mayhem one night a year ago when they ended up an Interstate 80 overpass in the dark of night. The rock, which weighed nearly 5 pounds, was sent crashing through a vehicle in which Uniontown, Ohio, middle school teacher Sharon Budd was a front-seat passenger.
Budd said after the four hearings on Tuesday that as a career teacher she felt some sympathy for the men.
“I couldn’t help but my heart went out to them,” Budd said. “I think back to when I was 17, I didn’t always make the best decisions.”
She is scheduled for a seventh surgery on Friday at a nearby hospital.
Brett Lahr opted to voluntarily begin serving time earlier this year when he pleaded no contest. Under Pennsylvania sentencing rules, he will be eligible for parole in less than a year and a half, but it’s likely he will serve longer. He will remain on probation until 2035.
“They have chosen to put themselves where they’re at,” said Union County District Attorney Pete Johnson. “The victim didn’t choose to put herself where she’s at.”
After Keefer McGee and Dylan Lahr entered their pleas, Sholley said he would announce whether he would accept the deals at sentencing.
McGee’s plea to a single count of aggravated assault could send him to the county jail for nearly a year. Dylan Lahr could serve more than four years in state prison under a plea to trespassing, agricultural vandalism and two counts of aggravated assault.
Lahr’s lawyer, Bruce Manchester, said his client would get credit for time served, since he’s been in jail since September.
“I think it’s very fair, and he now realizes the significance of his conduct,” he said after the hearing. “He is remorseful.”
Sharon’s husband Randy Budd said during the sentencing hearing that their lives were forever changed by what happened that night, as his daughter drove the three of them from their home toward New York, where they planned to see a show.
Sharon Budd lost her right eye, does not have full control of her bodily function and needs around-the-clock care, he said.
“She’s tough and she made it,” he told Sholley, choking back sobs. “She didn’t die. They told us she was going to die that night.”
What the defendants did should not be described as a prank, he told the judge.
“I just pray that these young men can be somehow learn from this and grow up to be great citizens,” Randy Budd said. “But this is not the time to slap somebody on the wrist. This is a good old fashioned spank that should happen.”
Sholley said the Budds have exhibited strength, courage and love as she battles to recover. He had harsh words for Brett Lahr, who did not directly apologize, saying little beyond answers to basic questions as part of the court procedure.
His lawyer said Brett Lahr feels sorry for what occurred.
“To not have any idea of the damage that … could be caused by a rock of that shape and size going through a windshield of a passenger car, that’s not a prank, that’s evil,” Sholley said.
The judge also ordered Brett Lahr to pay restitution for damage that occurred that night when the four drove through a farmer’s cornfield, and when his brother Dylan broke windows in a home with a baseball bat.