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Warren County hit-and-run reveals inconsistent rules on repeat OVI offenders

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Posted at 6:38 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 21:15:38-04

A hit-and-run that killed a Warren County man is currently in the hands of grand jurors, but the suspect's history revealed multiple OVI arrests.

Jeremy Penwell had a warrant commanding police to arrest him for drug possession and driving a car under the influence, issued six months ago.

He then was arrested again for OVI and bonded out of the Hamilton County jail in August. While out on bond, police said, he hit and killed 37-year-old Aleksandre Begheluri on Sept. 14.

Begheluri was standing near a parked vehicle around 8 a.m. Tuesday on Grandin Road in Hamilton Township when he was struck. Penwell then fled east on Grandin Road toward State Route 48, police said.

"It's very unfortunate to hear what happened across the river and certainly our condolences go out there," said Rob Sanders, commonwealth attorney for Kenton County.

He said a state supreme court ruling was handed down to control jail crowding during the pandemic, which limits bonds in Kentucky.

"He was just rubber-stamped out the door like everybody else who's getting low-level, non-violence felonies is ever since COVID came in," said Sanders.

In Ohio, court records said Green Township police found Penwell passed out at the wheel of a drive-through with an open warrant from Kentucky. Police Chief James Vetter said he's looking into whether the arresting officer was aware of the warrant, but a judge still let Penwell out on bond for $500.

Despite this, Penwell's bond should have been lower even with two prior OVI charges on his record.

A spokesperson for the Hamilton County jail said staff was aware of the warrant before releasing Penwell, but that the charge did not have a high enough priority for Kenton County authorities to come get him.

Now, Penwell is in the Warren County jail facing a felony charge for the hit-and-run, which will be seen by a grand jury as soon as Friday.