Blair manslaughter indictment elevated to murder

MARIETTA – New evidence presented to a Washington County grand jury resulted in a previous involuntary manslaughter indictment being elevated to murder.

Ira D. Blair, 28, was indicted last month on charges of involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault and tampering with evidence in relation to the April beating death of 68-year-old Frank B. Stephens of Marietta.

At the time, Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings said the state would need to prove Blair had purposely caused Stephens’ death to secure a murder charge.

“Kevin read through the law books and decided he could bring it as a murder charge,” said Prosecutor Jim Schneider Wednesday.

Stephens was found dead April 2 in the 139 Groves Ave. trailer where Blair had been living.

Later that day, a bloodied Blair was found sleeping in a Third Street building he had allegedly illegally entered.

Some of the blood found on Blair that day was later matched to Stephens through DNA analysis.

Prosecutors have not provided a motive for the crime.

While the involuntary manslaughter charge carried a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, the new murder charge carries an indefinite penalty of 15 years to life.

Blair was also reindicted on the felonious assault charge. The second-degree felony carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.

Other grand jury indictments are:

* Michael A. Good, 35, of 4102 Cow Creek Road, St. Marys, was indicted on a first-degree felony count of attempted aggravated murder and a first-degree felony count of attempted murder, both with gun specifications.

On May 26, Good allegedly drove to a Newport location where he knew Parkersburg resident Richard Carter was fishing with his wife, Amanda, and shot Richard in the face and shoulder. According to testimony from Amanda’s mother, Robin Steele, during a preliminary hearing in the case, Good was in love with Amanda.

Good can only be sentenced on either the attempted murder or attempted aggravated murder charge. Either carries a maximum 11-year prison sentence plus three additional years because the crime was committed with a gun, said Schneider.

* Nick L. Losey Jr., 20, of 240 Hillcrest Drive, Marietta, was indicted on two second-degree felony counts of felonious assault and a third-degree felony count of intimidation of an attorney, victim or witness.

Losey was involved a vehicle accident on April 20 and allegedly assaulted a 16-year-old juvenile who provided a witness statement implicating Losey in the crash. Another witness stated that Losey struck the victim with a metal chain that he was holding in his fist, said Schneider.

* Michael V. Richards, 35, of 1110 Moody Ridge Road, Belpre, was indicted on drug charges. Richards is thought to be the ring leader of a drug trafficking operation locally, said Schneider.

“The Major Crimes Task Force asked we present this case against several people involved in a heroin selling ring,” he said.

The investigation, which took place between October and May, resulted in Richards being arrested at different locations. He was indicted on a second-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, three fourth-degree felony counts of trafficking in drugs, three fifth-degree felony counts of trafficking in drugs and two fifth-degree felony counts of possession of drugs.

Another four individuals indicted this week are reportedly considered major players in the drug dealing ring and all had connections to Richards, said Schneider. They were charged for various warrants, traffic stops and undercover drug buys that reportedly happened between October and May.

* Heather D. Thompson, 24, of 152 Harmar St., was indicted as part of the heroin trafficking investigation.

Thompson was indicted on a second-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a third-degree felony count of illegal conveyance of prohibited items onto grounds of a detention facility, three fourth-degree felony counts of trafficking in drugs and three fifth-degree felony counts of possession of drugs.

* Thomas Gaughan, 27, of 2453 County Road 9, Marietta, was indicted as part of the heroin trafficking investigation.

Gaughan was indicted on a second-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, two fourth-degree felony counts of trafficking in drugs and a fifth-degree felony count of trafficking in drugs.

* Abby L. Roach, 19, of 804 Fourth St., Marietta, was indicted as part of the heroin trafficking investigation.

Roach was indicted on a second-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a fourth-degree felony count of trafficking in drugs, a fifth-degree felony count of trafficking in drugs, two fifth-degree felony counts of complicity in drug trafficking and a fifth-degree felony count of possession of drugs.

* Josh S. Gibson, 29, of 707 Front St., Marietta, was the final individual indicted as part of the heroin trafficking investigation.

Gibson was indicted on a second-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and a fourth-degree felony count of drug trafficking.

* Derrick D. Oldfield, 27, of 152 Harmar St., Marietta, and Michael A. Snider, 39, of 518 Columbia Ave., Williamstown, were indicted on heroin trafficking charges.

“It’s safe to say the drugs they sold came from those five people (in the heroin ring),” said Schneider.

Oldfield and Snider were each indicted on two fourth-degree felony counts of heroin trafficking.

* Miriam J. Sergent, 51, and Robert J. Becker, 69, both of 213 Meigs St., Marietta, were each indicted on drug-related charges. Both had been indicted in April 2012, but the confidential informant in those cases disappeared, only to be found recently, said Schneider.

In the meantime, a search warrant and more undercover drug buys resulted in more charges against the couple. Sergent was indicted on a third-degree felony count of trafficking in drugs, a fourth-degree felony count of possession of drugs, five fifth-degree felony counts of trafficking in drugs and a fifth-degree felony count of possession of drugs.

Becker was indicted on a third-degree felony count of trafficking in drugs, a fourth-degree felony count of trafficking in drugs, a fourth-degree felony count of possession of drugs, a fifth-degree felony count of trafficking in drugs and a fifth-degree felony count of possession of drugs.

* Gary P. Barker, 24, of 817 Lenore St., Parkersburg, was indicted on one third-degree and one fifth-degree felony count of drug possession. Barker was stopped on Interstate 77 on Nov. 11 and allegedly found to be in possession of the bulk amount of OxyContin and a single oxymorphone tablet.

* Ashley D. True, 25, of 3850 Central Ave. Apt. 28, Parkersburg, was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of drug possession. True was indicted last month for possession of bath salts, but there was an error in the indictment so it was dropped and indicted again this month.

* Donald Burnett Sr., 63, of 138 Rauch Drive, Marietta, was indicted on two third-degree felony counts, one fourth-degree felony count and one fifth-degree felony count of deception to obtain a dangerous drug. On Feb. 18, Feb. 27 and March 6, Burnett allegedly took fraudulent prescriptions and had them filled at pharmacies. The fraudulent prescriptions were for oxycodone, codeine and hydrocodone.

* Brandon S. Enoch, 23, of 819 Congress Road, Belpre, was indicted on a fourth-degree felony count of grand theft of a motor vehicle. He reportedly stole a 2005 Mercury Mountaineer on March 6.

* Elton D. Hart Jr., 37, of 56 High St., Waterford, was indicted on two fourth-degree felony counts of trafficking in heroin and a fifth-degree felony count of possession of methadone. On Oct. 9 and 10 and while Hart was on probation, he allegedly sold heroin within 1,000 feet of Waterford High School. On Dec. 13 he was caught with methadone for which he did not have a prescription.

* Joshua D. Scott, 26, incarcerated, was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of possession of heroin.

* Courtney T. Cunningham, 20, of 116 Ingleside Ave., Marietta, was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of drug trafficking, three fifth-degree felony counts of drug possession, a first-degree misdemeanor count of drug possession and a fourth-degree misdemeanor count of marijuana possession.

Cunningham was involved in a traffic crash in the 700 block of Phillips Street on Nov. 19 and officers noticed signs of drug abuse. Cunningham was reportedly in possession of marijuana, Xanax, oxycodone tablets, and two kinds of hydrocodone tablets. Cunningham admitted to officers that she sold marijuana to friends but said she did not consider that drug trafficking, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Jared Erb.

* Kristopher M. Welch, 21, of 720 Main St., Belpre, was indicted on two fifth-degree felony counts and one first-degree misdemeanor count of drug possession. Welch was stopped late at night March 8 in a car lot in Belpre and reportedly had a pill crusher that contained one Xanax, one amphetamine pill and one morphine pill, said Erb.

* Shonice S. Sass, 23, incarcerated, was indicted on a third-degree felony count of identity fraud, a fourth-degree felony count of forgery, two fifth-degree felony counts of identity fraud and a fifth-degree felony count of theft.

Sass allegedly used the identities of two New York residents to try to cash checks at Chase Bank on Muskingum Drive. On May 14, she was arrested while trying to cash an $8,000 check with false identification.

* Dustin W. Slagle, 20, of 610 1/2 Second St., Marietta, was indicted on a third-degree felony count of tampering with evidence, three fourth-degree felony counts of safecracking, three fifth-degree felony counts of possession of criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony count of breaking and entering, a fifth-degree felony count of theft and a fifth-degree felony count of vandalism.

Slagle reportedly broke into American Legion Post 64 at 812 Beverly Place on May 1 and took money from an ATM and two metal lock boxes. A former employee, Slagle had keys to the building but broke a glass door with a brick to gain entry, said Erb.

* Randy Messer Jr., 41, of 610 1/2 Second St., Marietta, was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of receiving stolen property. Messer is Slagle’s father and allegedly took money from the American Legion theft.

* Michael D. Boyer, 30, incarcerated, was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of receiving stolen property. Boyer was allegedly found with a stolen GPS and a stolen laptop computer after residents around Fifth Street in Marietta reported Boyer was trying to sell the GPS device door to door.

* Travis E. Pasco, 25, of 103 Muskingum Drive, Marietta, and Dustin L. McKnight, 27, incarcerated, were indicted on three counts each of burglary, a third-degree felony. On three consecutive days – May 31, June 1 and June 2 – Pasco and McKnight allegedly entered a 101 Muskingum Drive home and stole items. Many items, ranging from furniture to a portable furnace, were found in antique malls and flea markets, said Schneider.

* Nicholas Johnson, no age available, of 26101 Rock St., Coolville, was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of theft. Johnson’s uncle was hospitalized after a vehicle accident on Feb. 12 and died on Feb. 18. Johnson allegedly obtained his uncle’s wallet and debit card and withdrew $2,760 from the deceased man’s account without permission.

* Donald W. Kinney, 27, of 704 Elm St. Apt. 4, Belpre, was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of theft. Kinney was a former employee of McLaughlin Motors on Ohio 339. During his employment there, he allegedly took a check from the company and forged it for $800.

Kinney cashed the check in West Virginia and was charged and convicted of the forgery there, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Amy Graham.

* Christian M. McCarty, 21, and Andrew L. McCarty, 25, both of 125 Hickory St., Lower Salem, were each indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of forgery. Christian was also indicted on two fifth-degree felony counts of theft of a check. The brothers allegedly each forged a check that Christian had stolen from their father.

The total amount stolen through the forgeries was $231.75.

* Lori Leedy, 48, of 9550 Ohio 550, Vincent, was indicted for drug-related incidents that resulted in the indictments of six other individuals. In the first incident, she and two men allegedly stole a safe from a Meigs County home on April 18, 2012 and brought it back to a Washington County home to crack it open.

The safe contained around $40,000 cash, guns and World War II memorabilia. Leedy was charged with safecracking, a fourth-degree felony, and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony.

* Allen “Dale” Ball, 31, of 2187 Schoolhouse Road, Little Hocking, was the second person indicted for involvement in the safe theft. It was allegedly Ball’s home where the safe was cracked open, said Graham.

He was indicted on a third-degree felony count of tampering with evidence and a fourth-degree felony count of safecracking. In an unrelated incident, Ball was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of drug trafficking for reportedly selling Xanax to a confidential informant on April 18.

* James Bartimus, 40, of 2346 Sealy Ridge Road, Vincent, was the final indictment resulting from the safecracking case. He was indicted on a third-degree felony count of tampering with evidence and a fourth-degree felony count of safecracking. Leedy, Ball and Bartimus were all charged with the theft of the safe in Meigs County and are all serving prison sentences there.

Leedy and Bartimus received additional indictments stemming from an April 18 incident where the pair and another individual were reportedly found tampering with drugs at Bartimus’ mother’s residence.

* William R. Adams, 37, of 9550 Ohio 550, Vincent, was the third individual reportedly tampering with drugs. The three were allegedly crushing and snorting Adderall pills for which Leedy had a prescription.

Leedy, Bartimus and Adams were each indicted on a third-degree felony count of tampering with drugs.

Bartimus was also reportedly in possession of uncrushed Adderall pills for which he had no prescription and received an additional indictment on a fifth-degree felony count of possession of drugs.

* Ruth Bartimus, 49, of 2346 Sealy Ridge Road, Vincent, was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of permitting drug abuse for allegedly allowing the drug tampering to happen in her home.

Leedy and Adams also received additional indictments stemming from a July 10 drug sale where the two allegedly sold Leedy’s Xanax and Adderall pills to a confidential informant in front of Fruth Pharmacy in Belpre.

They were each indicted on one fourth- and one fifth-degree felony count of drug trafficking from that incident. In a separate incident, Leedy, her son, and her son’s girlfriend received charges for allegedly manufacturing methamphetamine.

* Travis Cunningham, 28, of 9550 Ohio 550, Vincent, was indicted on a second-degree felony count of illegal manufacture of methamphetamine and a third-degree felony count of tampering with evidence. Leedy’s house was the subject of an August search warrant during which task force agents found items used to make meth and a cooker in a burn pile in the backyard.

Cunningham, who is Leedy’s son, was believed to be the one who made the methamphetamine and at one point admitted to doing so, said Graham.

* Heaven D. Riley, 21, of 13916 Cherry Alley, Murray City, was indicted on two third-degree felony counts of assembly or possession of chemicals with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine.

* George F. Joseph Jr., 59, of 356 N. Crandon Ave., Niles, was indicted on a fourth-degree felony count of possessing cigarettes not bearing stamps, a fourth-degree felony count of trafficking in cigarettes with intent to avoid tax payment, a fourth-degree felony count of distribution of tobacco products with intent to avoid tax payment and a fifth-degree felony count of possession of criminal tools.

Joseph, who runs the Tobacco Road Store at 228 Pike St., was investigated by the Ohio Department of Taxation for alleged tobacco tax evasion. He was reportedly importing tobacco products from North Carolina and not paying Ohio taxes on them, said Schneider.

* Jeffrey A. Theiss, 35, of 27130 Ohio 7, Marietta, was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of grand theft, a fifth-degree felony count of vandalism and a fifth-degree felony count of possession of criminal tools.

Theiss allegedly broke into Get It Performance at 1340 Colegate Drive on June 16 and stole an air conditioning unit and other items.

* Michael D. Schilling, 44, of 4525 Sparling Road, Waterford, was indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of nonsupport of dependents. Schilling reportedly failed to pay child support between Jan. 1, 2011 and the present resulting in $4,600 in unpaid support.