Kenneth Lee Ritchey of Claysburg was sentenced Wednesday to spend at least a year in the Blair County Prison for assaulting family members and friends on Sept. 1 during a roadside fight that ended in a wild car chase and an accident in Greenfield Township.
Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva said the 32-year-old defendant will spend from one year, minus a day, to two years, minus two days, in the county prison for aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and driving under the influence. She then added seven years' probation on three counts of retail theft and one count of theft.
"Are you an addict?" the judge asked the Ritchey.
"I have a drinking problem," he answered.
Ritchey told Kopriva that he went through an alcohol treatment program while serving a prior prison sentence at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas.
After hearing that, the judge told Ritchey that he must begin to come to grips with his drinking problem.
She said it appears that drinking in Ritchey's case is a symptom of deeper problems rather than the cause of the actions that have gotten him in trouble.
The incident that led to his arrest and placement in the county prison began late Aug. 31 at a Claysburg convenience store.
A relative helped him carry heavy soda cases to his truck.
After that, the relative and others began to drive away, but they noticed Ritchey following them along Quarry Road.
The two vehicles stopped along the side of the road and an angry Ritchey began punching the driver of the other vehicle.
He tossed a full can of soda through the car's window. It struck a woman on the head.
The carload of victims then drove away and again Ritchey pursued them.
He rammed the vehicle at one point but then lost control of his truck, which turned onto its side.
Police found an open container of alcohol, a syringe and a cigarette box containing white powder in his truck.
Ritchey was placed on probation for retail theft at two local stores and for theft of a coin collection worth more than $1,000.
Ritchey told the judge he made a "bad decision" by going back to alcohol after treatment in prison.
The judge told him to use his year behind bars to ask himself, "What is it I really need? What is it that makes me drink?
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.