The man accused of causing a double-fatal accident in Newton Township last year was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison.
Paul Wodianka, 43, of Diamond, was sentenced in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.
Investigators said he was on prescription drugs and had a blood alcohol content of .052 when his speeding Cadillac went left of center and slammed head-on into the car being driven by Jamie and Emily Danes, killing the couple who was out celebrating their wedding anniversary.
The judge suspended Wodianka’s driver license for the rest of his life. He also was sentenced to serve more than four years in the Trumbull County Jail for charges of DUI and possessing drugs.
The victim’s family gave emotional testimony in court.
“They weren’t just some people in a car in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were a married couple, someone’s son and daughter, someone’s sister and brother, aunt and uncle. They were parents,” said Emily’s mother, Cathy Kivimaki. “He’s a murderer, just as if he’d walked into their home and shot them. Only his weapon of choice was a car.”
Journal entries from the couple’s son, Brendan, 8, were read aloud in court on Wednesday by Jamie’s mother. The first entry in his mom’s was “she always told me she loved me.” And the first entry in his dad’s was “I miss him very much and I will for the rest of my life.”
He also wrote a letter to Wodianka, which was read aloud in court.
“I’ve been sadder than I’ve ever been. I wish they didn’t die that soon, but because of you, that happened. Sincerely, Brendan,” the letter stated.
Wodianka was charged four other times with drunk or intoxicated driving.
Wodianka’s first OVI charge in 1996 was dismissed. He was convicted of OVI in 2000 of driving drunk with his wife. Reports said police saw him swerve four times driving on Mahoning Avenue in Lake Milton. Officers noted he slurred his speech, that he failed field sobriety tests and registered as intoxicated on a malfunctioning portable breath tester. He eventually registered a .12 blood alcohol content about an hour later.
He eventually was sentenced to three days in jail.
Four years later, he was again convicted of driving drunk. Records said he registered a .19 blood-alcohol content, more than twice the legal limit, and was sentenced to six days in jail, a six-month license suspension and alcohol assessment.
He pleaded guilty to a lesser offense of having physical control of a vehicle in an April 2008 crash and was sentenced to eight days in jail.
In that incident, reports said, Wodianka’s boss told state troopers Wodianka appeared at a job site on McCartney Road in Campbell sluggish and slurring his speech. The boss told troopers they were going to have him take a drug test when Wodianka fled in his truck, struck a guardrail on U.S. Route 62, flipped on the truck’s side and struck a tree.
Officers noted his slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. Wodianka refused to submit to a urine test for alcohol and drugs, reports said.
Four months later, Wodianka was charged and later convicted of driving drunk on state Route 46 and Route 18 in Austintown.
He was sentenced to three days in jail combined on both cases.
Wodianka’s most recent OVI conviction landed him in jail for five days and 18 days of house arrest.
Reports said Austintown police noticed Wodianka swerve three times on state Route 46. Officers pulled him over and found three different prescription drugs in his vehicle, including roxicodone, Ativan and clonidine hydrochloride.
He was eventually convicted of having cocaine metabolite in his urine test OVI, and possessing dangerous drugs.
“Perhaps, and I pray for this regularly, someone else out there will use your situation for an example of what can happen in the blink of an eye, and make a better decision than you did,” said John Danes Jr., Jamie’s brother.