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Jury finds Thomas Stidhum guilty of hit-and-run that killed runner

Posted at 12:00 PM, May 08, 2017

CINCINNATI -- A Hamilton County jury found Thomas Stidhum guilty of striking and killing a runner with his car in December 2015.

Stidhum was on trial for aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular homicide, failure to stop following an accident and tampering with evidence. He was found guilty on all four counts.

Investigators said Stidhum ran over and killed Cathy Chatfield as she ran on a sidewalk during the Seven Hills Run/Walk on Dorchester Avenue in Mount Auburn. Prosecutors said Stidhum drove his Chrysler 300 at 60 mph, lost control and jumped the curb, hitting Chatfield. After crashing into a wall, Stidhum got out, tried to remove the license plates, and took off running, according to prosecutors.

“The justice system really does work if you are able to let it work the way it’s supposed to,” said Tom Chatfield, Cathy's brother.

 

Both sides made closing arguments Friday morning; the jury took the case later that day.

RELATED: Thomas Stidhum's attorney says police have no proof he drove car that hit, killed runner

Stidhum was called everything from "young and dumb" to "heartless" during closing arguments Friday.

"There is no sympathy from this guy," prosecutor Chuck Thiemann said. "He expresses no remorse at all, not a shred of sentiment."

After his conviction Monday, Stidhum's mother said she still believes in his innocence and will stand by him. Rozena Stidhum said she plans to talk with her son's attorney, M.J. Hugan, about possibly filing an appeal.

“It was an accident. It truly was an accident if it did happened, but he said it didn’t happened, and I do believe him,” she said.

Police didn't arrest Stidhum until a month after the Dec. 5, 2015, crash. Investigators said they identified Stidhum as the suspect partly because of DNA evidence on a soda bottle in the car and a bloody sheet of paper found nearby.

However, authorities faced some issues in prosecuting the case. Recordings of nine witness statements taken at the scene of the crash have been lost. And a key witness, Moriah Johnson, couldn't be found to testify. Police said she was a passenger in the car at the time of the crash. Now there's a warrant out for her arrest.

With those pieces of evidence missing, Hugan argued Stidhum had not been behind the wheel when the car hit Chatfield. Stidhum originally told police he was asleep and nowhere near Mount Auburn. Hugan said police had "pressured" a witness to point out Stidhum.

"Somebody needs to be held accountable for this," Hugan said. "OK, but let's make sure it's the right person."

RELATED: Can jurors in Thomas Stidhum trial keep crashes straight?

Police testifying at the trial spoke about another hit-and-run crash they said Stidhum caused just 15 days before Chatfield was killed. In that incident, police said Stidhum had been speeding at 100 mph in a red Camaro, then crashed head-on into a pickup truck. He then ran from the scene. He had also previously been convicted of driving under OVI suspension, failure to comply with an officer and obstructing with official business, among other crimes.

A judge sentenced Stidhum Wednesday to 14 years in prison and $15,000 in fines.