The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 8, 2013

Defendant receives probation in Carthage vehicular assault case

By Jeff Lehr

JOPLIN, Mo. — A judge granted a Pittsburg, Kan., resident probation Monday on four felony assault convictions in Jasper County Circuit Court related to a traffic accident that injured four members of a family a year ago in Carthage.

Circuit Judge David Dally assessed Tyler Tonyan five years on each of four counts of second-degree assault by operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, but suspended execution of the sentences and placed him on supervised probation instead for five years.

Tonyan, 30, pleaded guilty to the charges April 22 in an agreement with the prosecutor’s office that limited the sentences that he might receive to five years and called for whatever terms that he received to run concurrently. Under Missouri law, he could have faced up to seven years on each count.

The accident on April 7, 2012, injured Sebero Lopez, Mira Merida and their 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

The affidavit states Tonyan failed to yield the right of way at a red light on West Chestnut Street in Carthage and struck the victims’ vehicle, causing it to roll. Merida and her son suffered cervical sprains, Lopez a cut on his hand and their daughter a bloody nose, the court document states.

A Carthage police officer reported observing signs that Tonyan was under the influence of drugs at the scene of the crash and the defendant reportedly admitted that he had injected methamphetamine less than 15 hours previously.

Drug testing showed that he was under the influence of both the meth and a depressant, according to the affidavit.