Driver, 18, pleads guilty to killing friend

Posted at 12:38 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-09 21:44:59-05

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio – A remorseful 18-year-old West Chester man accepted blame for driving drunk and killing a friend in a car crash last December.

Tristan Lacey held a copy of the New Testament and wore a white-beaded rosary around his neck Tuesday when he pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide for causing the death of 18-year-old Mark Valentine.

Lacey appeared grief stricken and choked back tears when the prosecutor detailed the facts of the case.

Police said Valentine was sitting in the back seat when Lacey crashed into a pole off Beckett Ridge Boulevard near the Beckett Ridge Golf Club at 4:47 a.m. Dec. 26. Valentine's 19-year-old brother Eric was also in the car.

Mark Valentine was a West Chester resident and senior at Cincinnati Christian who was planning to go to college for business. An acceptance letter from Ohio State came in the mail just a few days ago.

Mark was also considering a career in comedy, as he enjoyed rating others' jokes and working on his own jokes with his friends and family.

Valentine's parents did not want to appear on camera but they said they want other teens to take a lesson from their son's death.

"We want kids to learn from this," said Debbie Steel, Mark's mother.

"We want kids to stop and think about Mark and think about their choices,"  said Ashley Valentine, Mark's father.

Lacey faces a maximum of eight years in prison with a lifetime suspension of his license. He will be sentenced in March.