Kaylee Remington Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland
PAINESVILLE, Ohio — A judge sentenced a Kirtland man to 11 1/2 years in prison Friday for killing Mentor police officer Mathew Mazany in a hit-and-run-crash last year.
Brian Anthony, 25, pleaded guilty in March to aggravated vehicular homicide, operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and other charges in the June 24 crash. Prosecutors dismissed one count of failure to stop after an accident, saying in court that they did not have enough evidence to get a conviction on that charge.
Prosecutors in Lake County said that Anthony drank for at least three hours prior to the crash, and he tested positive for drugs including fentanyl, heroin, morphine and codeine after his arrest.
Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge John P. O’Donnell handed down Anthony’s sentence Friday as members of his family watched from the courtroom gallery. Many of them are area police officers and firefighters. Fellow police officers and family members also packed the courtroom on Mazany’s behalf.
Anthony’s attorneys, Richard Perez and Hector Martinez, maintain that he did not know what happened or that he hit a person. His mother, Ann Albrecht, said at the hearing that her son admitted that he has a drinking problem and that he worked hard to keep himself sober. His stepfather also spoke at the hearing. He went to the scene shortly after the crash happened.
“Brian would never choose to bring harm to another human being,” Ann Albrecht said. “He is a good loving man. This accident doesn’t define him as a person. My only wish for my children is for them to be a loving person and a service to others. My prayers will continue for all those impacted.”
Mike Albrecht, who has served as a Mentor Firefighter for more than 35 years, apologized to Mazany’s family, friends and colleagues.
“I pray you (everyone impacted) will one day forgive my son,” he said. “I’m deeply sorry that I had to deliver the news of a fellow officer. I ask you to consider another person’s life, the life of my stepson, Brian.”
Anthony said through tears that he understands that he made a horrible decision that caused “everlasting heartbreak.”
“I made a horrible series of decisions that evening,” he said. “I know i need to change my behavior and I promise to do so in my days of incarceration and after.”
Mike Mazany, officer Mazany’s brother, told Anthony he has no sympathy for him and demanded the maximum time for Anthony as his brother did his duty as a police officer with integrity and service.
“How dare you? You knew you hit him,” he said to Anthony. “This family has fought so hard to demand this man time. I’m insulted by it. This man nailed my brother. You grounded him down and flung him through the air. You didn’t know? You’re a liar.”
Mazany was fierce a protector of his wife and son, his wife, Lisa Mazany said during a statement to the court.
“With Matt by my side I always felt safe,” his wife said. “He was my heart, and soul.”
He was her everything, she said, and a hero; not because of the badge, but because he was the epitome of what a good man is.
The crash happened about 1 a.m. in the eastbound lanes of Ohio 2 near the exit to Ohio 306. Mazany was stopped along the highway to help another police officer with an unrelated traffic stop.
The crash pinned Mazany between a Jeep and another Mentor police officer’s cruiser.
Anthony also struck another police cruiser. Dashboard camera video showed he stopped for a moment before he drove away.
Mazany, who suffered skull fractures and blunt force trauma in the crash, died after paramedics took him to TriPoint Medical Center in Painesville for treatment.
Anthony went to Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve & Marina after the crash to celebrate a friend who passed the police academy and told a friend that he hit something, but wasn’t sure what he hit, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Rocco Dipierro said. Anthony later told investigators he was not aware he hit someone on the side of the highway.
Authorities tracked the Jeep Wrangler after watching the dashboard camera video from the incident and obtaining the license. They found Anthony about 9 a.m. the morning after the crash, sleeping on a hammock at the marina, Dipierro said.
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