Thomas Hains of Cambridge sentenced for shooting a car outside Coshocton bar

COSHOTON − A former Marine from Cambridge involved in a shooting outside a Coshocton bar was sentenced Wednesday in Coshocton County Common Pleas Court by Judge Robert Batchelor.

Thomas M. Hains, 44, was indicted in November on a charge of felonious assault, a second-degree felony, in connection with the Nov. 11 incident. The charge carried a three-year firearm specification and specification to forfeit the firearm involved, an M&P Shield .40 caliber handgun. He was also indicted with improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, a fourth-degree felony.

According to the Coshocton County Sheriff's Office, a firearm was discharged during a fight outside the Cedar Street Inn. Nobody was injured. Deputies secured the scene and spoke to witnesses. A search warrant was obtained and a man and woman were taken into custody.

Hains entered a guilty plea to amended charges on Aug. 16 as part of a plea deal with the Coshocton County Prosecutor's Office. The felonious assault count was dropped in favor of a charge of discharging of a firearm on or near prohibited premises, a third-degree felony, with no specifications. The state agreed to take no position on sentencing and not oppose bond or a pre-sentence investigation.

As allied charges, count two merged into count one and Hains was only sentenced on the discharging of a firearm charge. He received 18 months in prison and up to two years of optional post release control. He received five days of credit for local incarceration. Hains was also ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution to the victim to cover her insurance deductible related to damage to her vehicle from the gunshot.

Attorney Edward Itayim in Coshocton County Common Pleas Court with client Thomas Hains of Cambridge. He received 18 months in prison for discharging of a firearm on or near prohibited premises in November outside the Cedar Street Inn.
Attorney Edward Itayim in Coshocton County Common Pleas Court with client Thomas Hains of Cambridge. He received 18 months in prison for discharging of a firearm on or near prohibited premises in November outside the Cedar Street Inn.

Attorney Edward Itayim argued for probation, citing several mitigating factors. This included Hains not intending to cause the victim harm or the incident being premeditated. He also mentioned Hains being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from his military service and suffering a concussion from the incident. Hains has also received counseling.

"There were many factors involved with my decision that evening, such as fear, injury, my own mental health, PTSD, training and confusion. I had to process all these things in that split second," Hains told the court. "With that being said, I know and I take full accountability, that my actions that night were not justifiable. Looking back on it now, I see and feel the embarrassment, shame and remorse for what I did."

Itayim said it was a situation based on poor decisions that spun out of control. However, Itayim said he nor his client wanted to make excuses for what happened.

"Mr. Hains has not been that type of client. He's been remorseful from the very beginning and deeply regretted those decisions," Itayim said. "Mr. Hains has done everything up to that incident and everything after that incident to the best he can to do."

The victim was not in the courtroom, but was present and did speak at the change of plea hearing. The victim's father was present. Hains spoke to the court and also read an apology to the victim. Hains said he pledged to do whatever he could to help the victim heal and move on.

"I want you to know in the split second decision my intention was not to hurt the person driving the vehicle, but to stop a bad situation from getting worse. I'm devastated by the way my actions have affected you and I have thought about you every day since the incident happened," he read in court.

Batchelor read the victim's account of the incident from the pre-sentence investigation. The woman was not involved in the fight and only wanted to leave the bar, but the door was blocked by the fight. When she was able to leave, Hains was being loaded into the backseat of a pickup truck by two women. The victim got in her car and turned to see Hains pointing a firearm right at her. She leaned back in her seat and pulled out of the spot. Hains fired the gun and struck the hood and front grill of the vehicle. There was also security camera footage of the incident.

Batchelor noted Hains not having a criminal history and his military career of more than 20 years. However, he also mentioned there being no 911 call from the defendant or Hains turning himself in at the sheriff's office.

"Having discharged a firearm directly into a motor vehicle occupied by another person while she was attempting to leave, a person who had nothing to do with any fight that occurred at a bar, someone who was just trying to leave the (establishment) and the video shows that she was backing out, was leaving, was trying to get away, was trying to retreat from the situation and you decided, for reasons again only you can explain, to fire a shot into her motor vehicle," Batchelor said in reviewing the case.

This article originally appeared on Coshocton Tribune: Thomas Hains of Cambridge sentenced for firing a gun outside a bar