20-year sentence upheld in dragging death

2014-03-31T15:16:00Z 2014-03-31T21:45:14Z 20-year sentence upheld in dragging deathBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld the 20-year-sentence of a 51-year-old Portage man, who pleaded guilty to driving drunk Sept. 3, 2011, and killing a woman by running over her with his vehicle and then dragging her body more than a mile.

The court tossed out a challenge by James Lohman III based on the nature of the offense and the character of the offender.

"The nature of this crime was particularly gruesome and undeniably tragic," the court said.

Lohman drove over 45-year-old Sheri Jania as she stood in front of his vehicle outside the Shift Change Bar where she worked on U.S. 20 and Ind. 149 in Burns Harbor.

He opened the vehicle door before leaving the parking lot and despite others yelling that Jania was under the vehicle, Lohman drove off dragging Jania's body, Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford said at sentencing.

The appellate court cited Lohman's history of alcohol and drug abuse, and criminal activity. It was pointed out that Lohman drank several beers before the incident in question.

Lohman continued to blame others during his sentencing and said he did not see Jania before striking her, despite reports of witnesses.

He had pleaded guilty to felony counts of leaving the scene of an accident and driving drunk resulting in a death.

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