MILLERSBURG -- For several minutes he bantered back and forth with the judge. He first said he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea, then offered a host of explanations surrounding not only the underlying criminal offense, but subsequent criminal charges in Wayne County and a local bond violation. But, eventually, a Wooster man was sentenced to prison for stealing a truck.
The Thursday, March 9, sentencing hearing of Scott B. Saffell, 39, of 618 Spink St., in Holmes County Common Pleas Court, began with Saffell suggesting he wanted to withdraw his prior guilty plea to grand theft of a motor vehicle. In exchange for his guilty plea, the state had dismissed related charges of theft and receiving stolen property.
While the state, initially and at sentencing, indicated it would not object to placement at the Stark Regional Community Correction Center treatment facility; Saffell came into Thursday's hearings with several prison factors.
Among them were allegations Saffell twice violated his bond and the fact he since was convicted of a felony in Wayne County.
"I'm confused here. I didn't even know I was in trouble," Saffell said, referring to his bond violations, adding, "I haven't got to tell my thing about my whole situation. I'm not trying to go to prison. I'm trying to get treatment for my problem.
"I'm trying to get my life back. I've spent eight months trying to get my life back together," said Saffell, who started relatively calm, but increasingly spoke over Judge Robert Rinfret and other court officers.
"These are all the things you're making excuses for," said Rinfret in response to Saffell, who continuing to interrupt and argue, eventually was told, "Mr. Saffell, do not speak unless I ask you to speak. Now you are getting me mad."
Among the excuses offered by Saffell was one suggesting it was his roommate who lied about his living arrangements. He also said a job made him unavailable to report to probation, prompting Rinfret to say, "Now you just told me you violated bond because you were working under the table."
With Saffell briefly silenced, Rinfret continued, "Mr. Saffell, don't perceive what you think I'm saying. There is no question in my mind you didn't do what you were supposed to do (therefore violating bond).
And, while Saffell initially suggested he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea, he eventually agreed to stand by it, adding, "I just want to get this done. I guess I can't state what I wanted to state."
Rinfret sentenced him to 14 months in prison and ordered him to pay all court costs, the fees and expenses of his court-appointed attorney and $30 in restitution.
Even after his sentence was handed down, Saffell tried to explain the circumstances surrounding the theft. He launched into a story about an acquaintance who allegedly threatened the life of another and how his own desire to ensure the safety of a woman prompted him to commit the crime.
"To be honest, Mr. Saffell, in the scope of all things, it's not a big crime. It's stealing a vehicle, and you stole a credit card. There are services to help people. You don't have to steal someone's car and credit card," said Rinfret, adding that in the end, "You're the one that got yourself a prison sentence."
And, of Saffell's motivation to steal the truck, Rinfret inquired, "You couldn't have asked to use a phone to call 911 as opposed to stealing a truck?"
The charges stem from an April 25, 2016, incident.
That's when Saffell reportedly twice approached a home along state Route 39, asking for gas for his vehicle, which was up the road, according to Chief Deputy Richard Haun of the Holmes County Sheriff's Office.
Twice he was denied fuel, but, after a short time, the homeowner discovered an unlocked truck, the keys to which were inside it, had been taken from the driveway, said Haun. The truck was recovered three days later in Wooster.
Saffell was identified as a suspect in the case after, on June 10, he was taken into custody following a foot pursuit with Wooster Police. At that time, he was found in possession of a credit card taken from inside the truck, said Haun.