Thursday, July 11th, 2019
Minster man gets 18-year sentence
By Sydney Albert
CELINA - A Minster man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison with a possibility to serve more time for six felony charges related to incidents including an inmate's overdose and an attack on two corrections officers at the Mercer County jail.
Zequiel Ahrns, 23, was sentenced in three criminal cases in Mercer County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday. Officers and employees from local police departments and the Mercer County Sheriff's Office packed the courtroom on one side while members of Ahrns's family gathered on the other. In the most severe of the three cases, Ahrns was sentenced to 12-15 years in prison for two counts of first-degree felony kidnapping, 24 months for a third-degree felony escape charge, 16 months in prison for fourth-degree felony assault and 10 months for fifth-degree felony assault.
The kidnapping charges come with the stipulation that after the minimum 12 years are served, a hearing would determine whether Ahrns would be required to serve another three years in prison based on his prior behavior.
Those charges stem from a March 25 incident in which Ahrns reportedly violently attacked two corrections officers and took control of their Tasers in an attempt to escape from the Mercer County jail. When officers from the Celina Police Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and sheriff's deputies arrived, a corrections officer was able to convince Ahrns to put down the Tasers, and she was able to handcuff Ahrns and bring him under control, according to a Mercer County Sheriff's Office news release. The release stated the incident and response lasted eight minutes.
The two corrections officers, one male and one female, were treated by medical staff at the jail and then transported to Mercer County Community Hospital, Coldwater, where they were treated and released.
In a second case, Ahrns was sentenced to a consecutive 24 months in prison for a third-degree felony illegal conveyance of drugs onto government property charge.
After a jail inmate overdosed on March 20, an investigation reportedly revealed Ahrns, who was being held on one count of burglary and one count of theft before the incident, had smuggled fentanyl into the facility upon his arrest on March 19. Ahrns also was sentenced for the first-degree misdemeanor petty theft charge Wednesday, receiving 180 days in prison to be served concurrently with his other sentences.
Before sentencing, defense attorney James Hearn Jr. addressed the court to ask that Ahrns be given a lighter sentence. He described Ahrns as a family man caring for his two young children before an opioid prescription led to a heroin addiction. At the time of the kidnapping, Hearn said Ahrns had been going through withdrawal and wasn't thinking of the harm he was doing.
Ahrns stood and apologized, tearfully saying he'd had time to think and knew what he did was wrong. His older sister also spoke on his behalf, saying Ahrns's behavior was the result of drug abuse. She said his incarceration wouldn't affect just him, but the whole family. She asked that he be given a chance for rehabilitation.
In rebuttal, Mercer County Prosecutor Matthew Fox summarized the statements of the two correction officers Ahrns had reportedly assaulted, saying both had suffered physically and emotionally. Fox said one suffers from flashbacks, both at work and in his personal life. The other needed to undergo surgery after the incident with the possibility that some of the damage may be permanent and had lost work at a second job. Their families both fear for their safety when they go to work now, Fox said.
He continued, saying while drug addiction was devastating, Ahrns had also made choices that had a devastating effect on others.