Driver in high-speed, wrong-way chase on I-480 in Streetsboro pleads guilty to felony

By Dave O'Brien | Staff Writer Published:

A Cleveland woman broke down in tears in Portage County Common Pleas Court Monday as she pleaded guilty to a felony for leading Streetsboro police officers on a high-speed, wrong-way pursuit on Interstate 480 in October 2012.

Ashley E. Stewart, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, a third-degree felony, in Judge Laurie Pittman's courtroom. She had been in court for a hearing on a motion by her attorney to void her Oct. 13, 2012, arrest, but entered the guilty plea instead.

Standing next to attorney Stephen McGowan, who confirmed for the judge he was withdrawing the motion to suppress her arrest and evidence obtained from that arrest, Stewart told Pittman she accepted responsibility and the consequences of her actions. Pittman accepted the guilty plea, and ordered a pre-sentence investigation.

Third-degree felonies do not carry a presumption of prison time, so Stewart faces a minimum of probation or between one and three years in prison, along with a possible driver's license suspension of two years to life. By agreement of both parties, McGowan and the Portage County Prosecutor's Office will be allowed to argue Stewart's sentencing before Pittman, the judge ruled.

The prosecutor's office dismissed two misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle under the influence and refusal to submit to chemical tests, Assistant Prosecutor Eugene Muldowney said.

Shortly before 3 a.m. on Oct. 13, Streetsboro police, Hudson police and a Summit County sheriff's deputy chased Stewart's black 2007 Lincoln into oncoming traffic on I-480 after receiving a report of a wrong-way driver. Stewart narrowly avoided several head-on collisions and failed to stop or turn around despite being chased at speeds of up to 80 mph. Officers boxed in Stewart's car on S.R. 14 near Mondial Parkway and she was removed from the car and arrested, according to Streetsboro police.

Dashboard cameras in the officers' cruisers captured much of the chase on video.

Stewart's previous attorney, Joseph Lanter, had argued in court filings that Streetsboro officers failed to properly administer sobriety tests to Stewart following her arrest, and "lacked reasonable suspicion" to detain her for drunken driving, thereby violating her constitutional rights. McGowan replaced him as counsel prior to her plea.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1128 or dobrien@recordpub.com

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  • I have to admit there is something with this article .... There is no mention when this latest installment in Ashleys saga took place. The reader has to go to the linked article to learn the hearing was scheduled for yesterday (25 March 2013). Still doesn't mean it happened yesterday.

  • @ Sez: This picture and your getting tired of seeing it? In searching for confirmation Stewarts from Columbiana (she is) came to find this a very popular picture and Stewart a popular subject. What I'm curious about is why so many tears?

  • How much mileage is the newspaper going to get out of this outdated story? Its like the 4th time I have seen this girl's face in the paper. Just like the few the old drug bust stories that just keep getting recycled over and over.

  • Cleveland? Use to be Columbiana.

  • @ RAMELA: Attorneys do what attorneys do. It's their job. You may not agree with their arguments but the funny thing is an attorney never seems to go far enough when it's * your * butt their trying to get out of something.

  • LMAO, these cops are a bunch of morons, makes me want to see if I can out run them, I know I can out drive them that's for sure.

  • Why didn't they use the 'Pitt' maneuver on her? It seems like they had more than enough space, who cares if she is going 80mph, just Pitt her and bring her to a stop so she doesn't hurt anyone else. Americans do like a high speed chase,lol

  • Chasmo: You should check out the Portage Counties Most Wanted Fugitive List. There are a couple women on that list that could be in the calender.

  • Good to see the R-C getting maximum use out of this photo. Maybe you could start selling posters. Or how about a "Pretty Drunk Girls of Portage County" calendar? I see $$$!

  • Stanback: Absolutely she would be at fault. If she was going 15 to 45 miles per hour over the speed limit in the wrong direction, as she was in this scenario. Your point does not hold water. You are comparing apples to oranges.

  • Ramela: would the irresponsible drunk girl be at fault if she would have ran over a pedestrian crossing a dimly lit street at 10pm on a rainy night?

  • How about that Joseph Lanter?? What a piece of work. I wonder if that irresponsible drunk girl would have crashed into Mr. Lanter's family that evening, injuring or possibly killing them, if he would still say there was a "lack of reasonable suspicion" to detain her. Unbelievable!! That guy along with the attorney representing the Var's family, is what's wrong with today's society.