Enon man changes plea, sentenced to prison for stabbing death of Yellow Springs man

XENIA — An Enon man charged in the stabbing death of Leonid “Lonya” Clark in 2019 pleaded guilty to lesser charges in Greene County Common Pleas Court Wednesday and was sentenced to prison.

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Enon man expected to change plea in murder case involving stabbing death of Yellow Springs man

Zyrian Atha-Arnett, 28, entered guilty pleas Wednesday to charges of involuntary manslaughter, tampering with evidence, and gross abuse of a corpse stemming from Clark’s 2019 stabbing death. Atha-Arnett had previously entered not guilty pleas to charges of murder and felonious assault before changing his pleas for the lesser charges.

>> RELATED: Enon murder suspect indicted in Yellow Springs stabbing case

Atha-Arnett was also charged in a separate investigation for possession of child pornography and also changed his plea to guilty Wednesday.

A Greene County judge sentenced Atha-Arnett to 15 years in prison for the charges connected to Clark’s death and 18 months for the child pornography charges. The sentences will be served concurrently for a total of 15 years in prison.

As part of his sentence, Atha-Arnett will also be labeled at Tier II sex offender, meaning once he’s out of prison he’ll be required to register his address every six months for 25 years.

Clark was reported missing in January 2019 before his body was recovered by mushroom hunters months later in April.

Atha-Arnett and Clark were friends who had a “hit/miss relationship,” according to Clark’s father, Eric Clark.

“How could you hurt your friend? He was your friend. And how could you do it? And how could you keep him there when he was fighting you?” Jacqueline Clark, Lonya Clark’s stepmom said during her victim’s impact letter in court Wednesday.

“And how could you run away and leave him there? How could you leave him there to die?”

According to court documents, phone data and records gathered by Greene County Sheriff’s Office investigators showed that Atha-Arnett was near where Leonid Clark’s body was found at Glen Helen Nature Preserve on the same night he disappeared.

Atha-Arnett’s co-workers told investigators that he had multiple injuries, including scratches on his arms and chest, bruises around his neck and a cut on his hand that was “actively bleeding,” when he reported to work a few days after Leonid Clark’s disappearance, court documents indicate.

Preliminary findings in Leonid Clark’s autopsy said he died from multiple stab wounds and had defensive injuries on his hands and arms.

“I think Mr. Arnett knows this is a tragic situation. He knew the victim in this case from a very early age and he’s trying to take some steps that would at least be the first steps for the healing process to occur – to acknowledge his part of this situation and hope it starts the mending process in the community as well,” Jon Paul Rion, Atha-Arnett’s defense attorney said.