Teen driver in triple fatal crash enters deny pleas

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NEWARK – A copy of a newspaper story about the crash Jaylynn Rigio reportedly caused in June hung on a bulletin board outside the Licking County Juvenile Court clerk’s office as Rigio walked into the office with his parents and attorney Wednesday.

Rigio appeared in front of Licking County Juvenile Court Judge Robert Hoover and entered deny pleas to the five delinquency charges against him.

Rigio has been charged with three juvenile equivalency counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, and one juvenile delinquency count each of vehicular assault and possession of drugs.

Rigio is believed to have been the driver of the sole vehicle involved in a June 26 crash that killed 15-year-olds Cheyenne Spurgeon and Linzie Bell and 17-year-old Michael Hoskinson and seriously injured 16-year-old Ashton Cody.

Police and court documents say the vehicle was traveling more than 20 miles per hour over the posted 55 mph speed limit on Hardscrabble Road when Rigio lost control and struck a tree. The vehicle split in half and Spurgeon, Bell and Hoskinson, who were in the backseat, were ejected from the vehicle. All three were pronounced dead at the scene. None of them were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.

Blood tests found Rigio had marijuana metabolite in his system, but Prosecutor Ken Oswalt said at the time charges were filed the amount of the metabolite cannot be proven to have impaired Rigio.

Rigio’s attorney, Rob Calesaric, has previously said he anticipated Rigio would enter a deny plea in the first court appearance to advance the case and allow Calesaric to review all the evidence before making any decisions about pleas.

The maximum penalty Rigio would face if he is found delinquent on all charges is a period of time in the custody of the Department of Youth Services that could last until his 21st birthday.

Rigio has also been cited for two traffic offenses related to the crash, including a violation for having more than one passenger in his vehicle as a 16-year-old driver and for not ensuring all passengers were wearing seatbelts.

In court Wednesday, Rigio showed little emotion as Calesaric spoke. Hoover noted Rigio had taken a drug test prior to the hearing and had no drugs in his system.

Calesaric said after the hearing he has not ruled out any outcome to the case and had only received case information from prosecutors within the last 48 hours. He said he will need to review the information before deciding how to proceed with the case.

“(Rigio) has no recollection, the other survivor has no recollection,” Calesaric said.

Hoover ordered Rigio to be held on house arrest and be on an electronic monitoring anklet until his other court dates. Rigio will not be permitted to have any contact with the victims and will have to undergo random drug screens.

Hoover also ordered Rigio to not operate any motor vehicles, but Calesaric said Rigio has not been medically cleared to drive so that would not be an issue.

The case has been set for a preliminary conference later this month and for trial in November.