High-speed chase defendant gets 180-day term

Cary Ashby • Jan 10, 2013 at 3:07 PM

A high-speed chase defendant hopes he can get off his meds while he serves time in the Huron County Jail.

Joseph R. Michel, 52, of 127 1/2 Broad St., Bellevue, was sentenced Tuesday in Huron County Common Pleas Court to 180 days in jail and had his driver's license suspended for five years.

Michel already has been in custody for 126 days -- ever since he led the Bellevue Police Department on a high-speed chase.

Diagnosed with severe clinical depression and schizophrenia, Michel said at Tuesday's hearing he hasn't had any symptoms lately.

"He wants to take himself off the meds while he's at the jail," Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer DeLand said after the hearing.

After Michel is released from jail, Judge Jim Conway said Michel could be released to Teen Challenge, a faith-based substance abuse treatment program in Youngstown. He's already been accepted into the program.

Michel must continue undergoing psychological evaluations as part of his three years of intensive probation. He faces three years in prison if he violates the terms of his community control sanctions.

When an officer attempted to make a traffic stop in connection with an obstructed license plate Sept. 5, Michel didn't stop his van.

"I had a panic attack when that happened," Michel said when he was convicted Nov. 19. "I was afraid if I pulled over ... they'd shoot me."

Police said they chased the defendant "all over town" as he fled in a van, on foot and a bicycle. Michel has said he hid in the bushes at one point when officers announced "they'd put a dog on me."

The search for the suspect resulted in a school lock-down in Bellevue as a precaution. Other law enforcement agencies were involved in the manhunt. Michel eventually was arrested at gunpoint and taken to jail.

"He was not on his medication at the time," Huron County Public Defender David Longo said in November.

In mid-November, Michel pleaded guilty to failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer. In a plea deal, the state dismissed one count of inducing panic.

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