Judge lowers bond from $1M to $100K for man charged with 11th DUI

By Ed Runyan



A Braceville Township ironworker charged with drunken driving for the 11th time will be able to leave the Trumbull County jail to await trial if he can post $100,000 bond.

Judge Andrew Logan of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court at a Tuesday hearing reduced bond for Russell D. Balch, 49, from $1 million to $100,000 but said if Balch is able to make bond, he will be on house arrest and alcohol monitoring.

At that point, prosecutors also could request an evidentiary hearing, where they could present evidence to show why Balch should be held without bond, officials said.

Prosecutors filed a legal brief last week asking that Judge Logan order Balch held without bond, citing Balch’s three previous felony drunken-driving convictions, seven misdemeanor drunken-driving convictions and alleged death threats during his last arrest.

Balch, of Arhaven Drive, was arrested Dec. 11 in Newton Falls after a 911 call from a neighbor, who said Balch was refusing to leave her property and making death threats against her and her mother.

While deputies were on their way, they learned Balch had left in his father’s car. Newton Falls police located Balch in the village and arrested him. He was later indicted on charges of drunken driving, tampering with evidence, marijuana possession, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and alcohol consumption in a motor vehicle.

Balch’s blood-alcohol level was tested at .223, nearly three times the legal level of 0.08.

While talking to officers at the hospital, Balch “repeatedly threatened to kill” the two women and stated “jail won’t hold him forever and that he is going to cut their throats once released,” prosecutors said.

Balch’s attorney also filed a brief, saying Balch does not believe he is a risk of harm to the community.

“There is no allegation that Mr. Balch caused harm to anyone while allegedly committing this offense,” Atty. Alyssa A. Sidelka, with the Ohio Public Defender’s Office, wrote.

Her filing says Balch has three adult children and has lived in Trumbull County most or all of his life. He is employed as an iron worker and can potentially return to work if he is released on bond.

The filing says the court also could order Balch to be placed on house arrest with electronic monitoring and order him to be fitted with an alcohol monitor.

Some courts use a wrist bracelet that monitors alcohol use by looking for the presence of alcohol in sweat. Such bracelets are not used a great deal at the common pleas court. More common is for individuals to come to the adult probation department to be tested several times per week, officials say.

Judge Logan set another pretrial hearing for March 12 and trial on May 20.