July 18, 2014

O’Fallon, Mo., man sentenced to 7 years for hit-and-run death of teen in drug deal

St. Louis Post Dispatch July 18, 2014 11:00 pm • By Susan Weich

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • A man from O’Fallon, Mo., was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison for his role in a drug deal that left a St. Charles County teen dead.

In a deal with prosecutors, Robert J. Bathe, 20, of the 2600 block of Breezy Point Lane, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident. He also pleaded no contest to the felony charge of accessory to theft of a controlled substance. Under that arrangement, he did not admit guilt but conceded the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him.

On July 3, 2013, Bathe and several teens had arranged to buy marijuana from the victim, Tyler Pinner, 17, at his home on Oak Forest Drive in St. Charles County.

But they refused to pay Pinner for the drugs, according to authorities.

As Bathe, the driver, sped away, Pinner hung on to the driver’s side of the Ford F-150 pickup and was dragged for several feet. He lost his grip as the truck suddenly turned to the left and was run over by a rear tire, police said.

Pinner, a student at Fort Zumwalt South High School, died from severe head injuries. He had just finished his junior year.

Pinner’s mother, Cathy, was not in court, but a letter she wrote was read into the record by a crime victim’s advocate.

In it she detailed her close relationship with her son, who she said liked working with computers, metals and electronics.

She said her husband had died of esophageal cancer a few months before the accident, and her son had helped to take care of his dad.

Pinner said that Sundays were known at their house as “son days.”

“We would go out to eat, go to the movies, play Frisbee in the park; it didn’t matter as long as we were together,” she said.

The night of the accident, she had been working and she rushed to the hospital.

“When I got there I saw how broken he was,” her letter said. “I can’t stop seeing his broken face in my head; it was painful to see your baby with so much blood all over him.”

She said it was heartbreaking to have the funeral for her son so soon after the funeral for her husband.

“I do not see how I can ever put the pieces back together,” she said.

Circuit Judge Ted House handed down the sentence.

Afterward Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said the case was a reminder that drug deals too often can deteriorate into acts of violence. “Sometimes, as in this case, they have deadly consequences,” he said.

Similar charges in the case were dropped earlier this year against another teen in the car.

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