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Ohio man, who led police on high speed chase, gets five years in prison

Whitley Circuit Judge Paul Winchester sentenced an Ohio man last week to five years in prison for leading a Whitley County Sheriff's deputy on a Dec. 7 high-speed chase in a stolen car.

Mark Ferguson, 24, of Xenia, Ohio, pleaded guilty on March 27 to first-degree fleeing or evading police and receiving stolen property over $10,000.

Ferguson's girlfriend, Melissa Johnson, 22, also pleaded guilty on March 27 to reduced charges of criminal facilitation to commit fleeing or evading police and criminal facilitation to commit receiving stolen property.

Winchester sentenced her to 12 months in jail but agreed to conditionally discharge or probate that sentence for two years. This means she won't have to serve any additional time behind bars provided she stays out of trouble for two years.

Sheriff's Lt. Bill Riley testified during a Dec. 28 hearing that police had been notified on Dec. 7 the couple had stolen a white, 2007 Toyota Camry from the Ashland area and were believed to be in Whitley County where Johnson had relatives.

The notification noted that Ferguson was wanted in Ohio on various felony charges and that Johnson, who was also in the car, was an assault victim and reported as missing.

Riley said the vehicle took off when he tried to pull it over.

Riley pursued the vehicle for six to seven miles at speeds of up to at least 80 mph on the single-lane road until the car turned up Lucy Lake Hollow where the vehicle stopped and the driver and passenger fled on foot.

Johnson soon came from behind a building and surrendered to police while Ferguson fled into the woods.

Riley let Johnson use the public address system on his cruiser in an attempt to communicate with Ferguson to persuade him to give himself up.

"She hollered on the PA system several times for him to come out and give himself up. They were in this together until the end that is what they promised each other," Riley testified.

About an hour later, a security guard at Rowe's Scrap Metal spotted Ferguson and held him at gunpoint until police arrived.

During a May 22 sentencing hearing, Winchester also ordered Ferguson to pay a $450 public advocate fee and $130 in court costs once he is released from prison.

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