By Lisa Pett
A Nelsonville teenager accused of burning another man’s face in what he called a “prank” gone bad did not appear in person in Portage County Court on Monday.
Instead, defense attorney Chris Lumis made an appearance for his client, Drake Pearson.
Lumis failed to show up in court, though Person was present, on September 28 for the initial hearing due to a scheduling error. Lumis filed an official document of authorization to appear with the court so that his client would not miss an additional day of school.
Pearson, 18, is charged with a felony count of second-degree recklessly endangering safety and one misdemeanor count of negligent handling of burning materials. According to the criminal complaint, Pearson allegedly sprayed a can of starter fluid and lit it on fire in the direction of an 18-year-old friend as they were working on a truck at the man’s home.
The victim was hit by the flames, which burned off the hair on the right side of his face, including an eyebrow and mustache. The victim was treated for first-degree burns at St. Michael’s Hospital. According to the emergency room doctor, the damage is not expected to be permanent.
According to the criminal complaint, police were called to the hospital, where the victim gave a statement indicating Pearson chastised him for his reaction to the pain of being burned, and said he responded by punching Pearson in the face.
Pearson’s statement to the police differed, indicating the victim punched him as he leaned over to see if he was okay, according to the complaint.
Lumis entered a not guilty plea on the misdemeanor charge on behalf of his client and requested a preliminary hearing on the felony charge.
Pearson is free on a $5,000 signature bond. He was also ordered to have no contact with the victim as a condition of his bond. According to Lumis, both Pearson and the victim attend Amherst High School together.
His next court appearance is scheduled for October 26.