Man Who Led Police Pursuit Sentenced To Prison

Managing Editor

A Phillipsburg man who led law enforcements on a car chase that started in St. Marys and spanned throughout Auglaize and Mercer counties, was sentenced for his crimes on Friday.

Christopher W. Thornton, 38, was sentenced to 54 months to count 1, theft of a motor vehicle, a felony of the fourth degree and count 2, fleeing and eluding a police officer, a third-degree felony. Thornton was also sentenced to 180 days in prison on count 3, endangering a child, a first-degree misdemeanor. Count 1 and 2 run consecutively and count 3 will run concurrent to count 1. 

At approximately 10:08 p.m., April 19, a St. Marys Police Officer was unlocking a car near Phil’s One Stop Marathon Gas Station, 202 W. South St. when a citizen ran to the officer to indicate that his Jeep was stolen at the gas station and headed eastbound on South Street.

Thornton stole the Jeep parked at the Marathon gas station after “throwing” his nine-year daughter into the vehicle and drove away.

The officer attempted to stop the vehicle and the vehicle failed to stop, initiating a pursuit. During the pursuit, Thornton racked up a number of traffic violations, including driving with no headlights on and drove past 17 stop signs.

Stop sticks were deployed during the pursuit and were effective, ending the chase in the 1100 block of Goettermoeller Road in Maria Stein. He resisted arrest after doing damage to an Auglaize County Sheriff Deputy vehicle as well as an Ohio Highway State Patrol vehicle.

Thornton was taken to a nearby hospital to seek treatment as he led law enforcement to a 22-minute chase of speeds up to 80 miles per hour. He continued resisting officers and, at one point, needed to be in a restraint chair — all while being under the influence of methamphetamine and awake for more than 24 hours on a meth binge.

He is not eligible for judicial release until after six months and must pay restitution of up to $4,907.70 to local law enforcement because of the damage caused by the chase. Counts 1 and 2 also have post-release control optional for up to three years. If Thornton violates his post-release control, the court may impose additional prison terms for up to nine months per each violation.

“I want you to stop and consider something, you already lost one daughter in a car crash … and this is a guy who steals a jeep, drives without the lights on, says that he is paranoid and says that people are chasing him, but after it was extremely clear that he is dealing with police officers,” Auglaize County Common Pleas Court Judge Frederick Pepple said to Thornton. “Instead you decide to fight the cops even when you were in the Auglaize County Correctional Center, which makes your story not believable.”

Thornton’s operating license has also been suspended for a minimum of three years.

The Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol, New Bremen Police and Mercer County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the chase.