WARREN - A 42-year-old Niles man will undergo a pre-sentence investigation before a judge sentences him on two charges in connection with taking a car that contained a child sleeping in the back seat.
Trumbull County assistant prosecutor Gabe Wildman said he expects to recommend ''significant prison time'' for Ross Francis, 162 Robbins Ave., who remains in Trumbull County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bond.
Francis pleaded guilty Monday to charges of kidnapping and grand theft of a motor vehicle. He was facing a trial in April, but instead, Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Peter Kontos will sentence Francis after the pre-sentence report is made available.
Francis was accused of stealing a 2007 silver Chevrolet Impala on Oct. 11 that was parked in the driveway at 512 John St. in Niles. The car's owner, Michael Babuka Jr., had parked about 11 p.m. at the residence with his son, Michael Babuka III, 3, still inside the car, to speak to the mother of one his children.
Moments later when Babuka headed back out of the house, he saw the car driving away. He gave chase but couldn't catch the car.
He called Niles police, who sent out an Amber Alert for the boy. A dozen law enforcement agencies across Trumbull and Mahoning counties helped in the search.
Warren police Officer Ben Harrell saw the alert on his Facebook page about 4 a.m. Harrell drove to Warren Township to look for the car and was driving back to Warren when he noticed an older silver Chevrolet Impala with duct tape on his rear bumper, which matched the description of the stolen car.
Harrell followed the vehicle to 4424 Tod Ave., and blocked it in the driveway about 5:30 a.m. Francis initially looked like he was going to run, but gave up without incident, Harrell said.
The boy was not harmed.
Francis has apologized, admitting he was in a drug and alcohol ''blackout'' and didn't know a child was in the back seat of the vehicle.
He has served prison time for a burglary conviction in 2000 - the same year he was convicted in Girard on drunken driving charges.