Hohn sentenced for Clintonville killing
By Robert Cloud
Waupaca County Judge Raymond Huber sentenced Zachary T. Hohn to 30 years in prison.
Hohn was convicted of first-degree reckless homicide in the death of 25-year-old Matthew Pagel.
Hohn was 16 years old when he and Adam Ozuna, who was then 24, killed Pagel on April 11, 2016.
Investigators say Ozuna and Hohn picked up Pagel at the Clintonville Motel where he lived with his girlfriend.
Ozuna was the driver, Pagel sat in the front passenger seat and Hohn was sitting in the back seat.
They drove to several places, including an abandoned apartment, where Hohn and Ozuna pretended they were trying unsuccessfully to buy drugs for Pagel’s girlfriend.
Pagel had agreed he would pay them $200 for 100 Adderal pills.
Before the ride ended, Ozuna elbowed Pagel repeatedly in the face, while Hohn choked him from behind, police say.
Pagel’s body was found in a ditch on Airport Road about one-tenth of a mile north of County Trunk D near Clintonville.
During sentencing Friday, Hohn denied strangling Pagel, claiming he was only holding him.
When announcing Hohn’s sentence, Huber described the killing as a “very violent crime that showed a great deal of recklessness and lack of regard for the victim.”
While Hohn and Ozuna may not have planned to murder Pagel, they did plan to rob him.
“They played Matthew until some point in time he was violently beaten, strangled and left on the side of the road,” Huber said.
Noting comments made by Hohn’s defense counsel, Michael Covey, Huber said Hohn had been a troubled youth since he was 6 years old.
Covey had argued that while Hohn’s experience as a child did not excuse his behavior, it explained it.
“Zachary was shuttled back and forth from his mom to his aunt to his father and his grandmother,” Covey said.
During his childhood, Hohn experienced sexual and physical abuse at the hands of relatives.
While living with his grandmother, Hohn was in a condemned house with no functioning bathroom, Covey said.
District Attorney Veronica Isherwood said the pre-sentencing investigation found that the most positive periods in Hohn’s childhood were when he was at Rawhide Boys Ranch and Lincoln Hills teen prison.
Isherwood said she was angry at the Departments of Health and Human Services in Waupaca, Shawano and Outagamie Counties because it seemed they were not focused on helping a troubled child.
“It appears they fought over venue and who was going to pay for it,” Isherwood said.
Huber suggested that if Hohn had received psychological treatment as a young child, Pagel may still be alive.
Describing Hohn’s repeated encounters with law enforcement as a juvenile, Huber said, “Anyone who sees that long list sees a child in desperate need of services he never received.”
Huber also said Hohn’s 30 years in prison will be nearly twice as long as his age at the time he and Ozuna killed Pagel.
“Mr. Hohn will lose the majority of his life,” Huber said.