Lima man pleads no contest to hit-and-run

·3 min read

Sep. 1—LIMA — A Lima man was found guilty of failure to stop after hitting a pedestrian after leaving the scene of a fatal traffic accident in October 2021, a felony of the third degree.

John Rondot, 42, pleaded no contest to the charge, which is not an admission of guilt, but rather an acknowledgment that the facts in the indictment are true, and was subsequently found guilty. His driver's license will be suspended for a minimum of six months as a condition of his conviction.

Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and set Rondot's sentencing date for Oct. 13. Rondot could face up to a $10,000 fine, community control or prison time.

Rondot had previously pleaded not guilty, agreeing to the no contest plea after discussions with assistant county prosecutor Destiny Caldwell and his defense attorney Robert Gryzbowski.

The Oct. 16, 2021, traffic accident killed 18-year-old Ethan Dakota Howard at approximately 8:20 p.m. on Shawnee Road near Apollo Career Center. Howard was riding southbound on his mountain bicycle which did not have a rear light or reflector, according to a report from the Shawnee Township Police Department.

Rondot reportedly was traveling southbound on Shawnee Road when he came upon Howard and struck his bicycle in the rear but did not stop. The impact caused Howard to be thrown 170 feet, the police report said.

A passing motorist noticed Howard's body in the roadway and called 911. Two hours after the crash, Rondot contacted the police department and said he had struck a deer near the spot where Howard's body was found.

Howard died three days later of injuries sustained in the accident.

Rondot's attorney filed a motion in April to quash statements he made to law enforcement. Judge Reed took the motion under advisement.

The motion filed by Gryzbowski alleges that Shawnee Township law enforcement officers obtained the statement from Rondot "in violation of this rights against self-incrimination" on the night of the accident. Statements from Rondot were taken in the driveway of his home on North Napoleon Road.

"The first issue before the court is to determine whether Mr. Rondot was in custody when he was questioned by law enforcement officers," Gryzbowski said in his filing, "[and] second, whether statements made by Mr. Rondot were made knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently, so as to waive his right against self-incrimination."

The motion alleges that Rondot was in custody and should have been issued a Miranda warning of his rights to avoid self-incrimination.

Detective Jack Miller of the Shawnee Township Police Department testified in April in Allen County Common Pleas Court that Rondot at no time was placed under arrest during an interview in the driveway of his home.

Body camera footage taken during the interview was submitted to the judge for review at the time.

Reach Jessica Orozco at 567-242-0398, by email at jorozco@limanews.com or on Twitter @JessicaCOrozco.