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Man with bipolar disorder guilty in deputy assault

Cary Ashby • Oct 16, 2012 at 11:04 PM

Assault defendant Ronald T. Babione took a minute or two to tell the judge he understood the felony to which he was pleading guilty.

"Yes, I recognize the case. I don't remember the actual details," he said at Monday's hearing.

Babione, 23, of 4248 Ohio 103, Willard, also told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway he was the person who committed the unprovoked assault on Huron County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Mancuso. Babione has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The July 17 incident happened in the Huron County Jail when Mancuso was making his rounds as a corrections officer, helping deliver clean uniforms to inmates.

Babione became agitated when he thought Mancuso was staring at him, Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff told the court. Babione and Mancuso were about 25 feet away from each other.

The defendant suddenly turned, charged at Mancuso and hit the officer with a closed fist, Lt. Chris Stanfield said soon after the incident.

"He went at him (Mancuso) swinging," Stanfield said. "There was no argument. There was no conversation."

It took several corrections officers to restrain Babione, Woodruff said. The defendant later said he didn't have any reason to doubt the facts the prosecutor presented to the court.

Mancuso was treated for facial injuries in the Fisher-Titus Medical Center emergency room and released.

Babione's attorney, Huron County Public Defender David Longo, had warned the court his client might have problems remembering the facts of the case due to his "psychiatric issues."

Babione pleaded guilty Monday to one count of assault on a corrections officer. In a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to dismiss a second assault charge in which Stanfield was the reported victim. That incident also happened in jail, but after the one involving Mancuso.

Longo said although his client is taking medications for being bipolar, he said figuring out the proper dosages and meds "is a work in progress."

The public defender expressed concern that if Babione had pleaded "not guilty by reason of insanity," Babione eventually would have spent more time in a psychiatric hospital than he would behind bars.

"Mr. Babione has psychiatric issues. ... He takes medication (for them)," said Longo, who told Conway he could have argued for a plea of "not guilty by reason of insanity" in this case.

Assault, a fifth-degree felony, carries a penalty of between six to 12 months behind bars. Woodruff, as part of Monday's plea deal, said he wouldn't recommend a prison term, but would request "some form of community control sanctions" at the time of sentencing.

As Conway asks all defendants during a plea or sentencing hearing, he asked Babione if he had taken any medication Monday that might impair his ability to think clearly. The defendant said he had not taken his meds that day.

"I am clear when I'm off them," said Babione, who often stuttered and repeated himself.

At the time of the Mancuso assault, Babione was serving a 180-day sentence for resisting arrest and aggravated menacing.

The convictions were for an April 10 incident at his mother's New Haven Township home. The woman, who feared for her life, reported her son damaged her bedroom door and the contents of the room.

Upon arrival, two deputies found Babione in an upstairs bedroom.

"He confronted (the) deputies with a knife and baseball bat. He threatened the officers, then dropped the weapons and rushed them," Sheriff Dane Howard said shortly after the incident.

Babione was subdued with a Taser and arrested without further incident.

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