ELYRIA — Jeremy Diestler didn’t apologize for killing Matthew Stinson before he was sentenced Tuesday to 41 years to life in prison on aggravated murder and other charges of which a jury found him guilty earlier this month.
Defense attorney Jack Bradley said the 32-year-old Diestler was remorseful for his actions Sept. 17, 2014, but he didn’t believe having his client comment would change anything.
“I don’t think it ever helps anyone to say you wish you could take it back or say you’re sorry because you can’t bring somebody back,” Bradley said.
Instead, Bradley urged Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Miraldi to look at the sentencing factors under the law and also brought up Stinson’s history of dealing drugs, including to Diestler.
“I think we have to look at the fact that he was dealing in illegal substances, that he had been arrested several months before that, was under indictment and continued to deal heroin,” Bradley said. “So in a way, that might be something that the court would consider as him facilitating the offense by supplying heroin to Jeremy and this happened.”
But Stinson’s family wasn’t happy with Bradley bringing up Stinson’s involvement in the drug trade, pointing out after the hearing that at the time Stinson died, Bradley was his lawyer.
Stinson’s parents, William Roy Stinson Sr. and Cathy Stinson, said they had urged their son to plead guilty, do his prison time and then move to Arizona to start his life over. Cathy Stinson said her son refused to plead guilty because Bradley had told him he might be able to get the charges, which stemmed from an undercover drug buy, thrown out.
She said when she asked her son how he was getting the money to pay for his legal services, Matthew Stinson told her that Bradley told him to “do what you do.”
“I blame Jack Bradley as much as I blame Jeremy Diestler,” Cathy Stinson said shortly after an argument broke out in the hallway of the Lorain County Justice Center between different groups of Stinson’s supporters.
Bradley denied that he’s ever suggested to one of his clients that they break the law in order to pay their legal bills. He also said that the issue of a potential conflict of interest was raised early in the case, but Miraldi ruled it wasn’t an issue.
He also said he was surprised by the comments Stinson’s family made about him, although he added it’s something some people unfairly think lawyers do. He said if Stinson had actually told his family that his lawyer wanted him to continue dealing drugs, then family members would have called him or the police to complain.
“It seems to me like they’re trying to get even with the attorney because I did what I had to do to defend my client,” Bradley said.
During the trial, Diestler testified that he killed Stinson in a fit of rage, rather than the execution that Assistant County Prosecutor Donna Freeman argued that Diestler carried out when he went to Stinson’s Wesley Avenue apartment in Elyria armed with guns he’d stolen a few days earlier from his father.
For all of Bradley’s talk about the scourge of heroin and opioid addiction, Freeman said the case wasn’t about someone overdosing on heroin.
“We have a situation where Jeremy Diestler gunned Matthew Stinson down in cold blood and killed him,” Freeman said. “And why? Over bad, weak heroin.”
Freeman said Diestler lured Stinson outside the apartment under the pretense of buying heroin. Diestler was waiting in the parking lot armed an AR-10 rifle, which he shot Stinson with five times.
Stinson, 25, staggered back into his apartment building and collapsed at the bottom of a stairwell where Diestler shot him five times in the head with a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol.
Before fleeing Diestler fired several times at Angela Wade, one of Stinson’s neighbors who had come outside to see what was going on. Wade’s shoulder was grazed by one of the bullets fired by Diestler.
He was arrested the next day while driving with his then-fiancee’s children near his mother’s Grafton home, where police recovered the murder weapons.
Diestler testified during the trial that he was secretly using heroin to treat his bad back and that Stinson had given him weak drugs, something that triggered an argument between the two men. He told jurors that Stinson lifted his shirt and he saw what the thought was a gun before he went back to his truck and got the rifle and opened fire.
Police found heroin, cash and a hunting knife on Stinson’s body, but no gun.
Stinson’s family didn’t hide from his mistakes during their comments to Miraldi, but they also argued that Diestler didn’t have the right to kill him.
“I can’t imagine what kind of person set out to brutally murder someone in the manner that he did,” Cathy Stinson said.
Family members also said that the killing left Stinson’s three children to grow up without a father.
“He took away something that is just irreplaceable and can never be returned,” Sharon Whitmore, Stinson’s fiancee, told Miraldi.
The judge said that after sitting through the trial he was convinced the killing had been an “assassination” and had seen little remorse from Diestler.
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