Driver to testify in Fox trial

MARIETTA – A Marietta man who allegedly acted as driver in a pair of knife-point ATM robberies pleaded guilty Tuesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court and agreed to testify against the Marietta woman accused of carrying out the robberies.

James J. Augenstein, 44, pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony count of complicity to commit aggravated robbery and agreed to testify against co-defendant Mindy S. Fox, 33, at her September trial.

Fox is facing two first-degree felony counts of aggravated robbery, one each for a Dec. 26 and Dec. 27 incident in which she used a knife to intimidate two men into giving her money. She was also indicted on a second-degree felony count of kidnapping and a third-degree felony count of intimidation of an attorney, victim or witness.

“It was fairly clear all along that he was the driver. There’s almost no chance Mr. Augenstein was the actual robber,” said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings.

Both Augenstein and Fox admitted to the robberies when interviewed by Marietta Police Officer Katie Warden on Dec. 28, 2013, the day after the second robbery was committed.

However, almost all of that testimony was ordered suppressed in an decision handed down Thursday by Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane.

Lane ordered the suppression of all of Fox’s statements that day and all but the first 20 minutes of Augenstein’s conversation with Warden because both were in custody but not Mirandized at that point.

“Once James Augenstein was advised by Officer Warden that he was not free to leave, all statements, including the statements at the Marietta Police Department, after the Miranda Warnings were finally given, must be suppressed,” wrote Lane in decision on Augenstein’s case.

Similarly, Lane ruled that Fox had been ordered held at her home even before her interview started and thus struck all of her testimony that day.

Though much of Augenstein’s admission was struck, the first 20 minutes of his interview were ordered admissible, said Rings.

“They only suppressed part and in the part available, he still made some incriminating statements,” he said.

Fox was also in court Tuesday, arguing for a lowered bond in light of her testimony being suppressed.

“Since the only evidence they had was the statement… our case is much better,” said Fox’s attorney Ray Smith.

However, Rings said the state still has a strong case because of Augenstein’s plea and agreement to testify earlier that morning.

“It’s a different case, but I don’t feel it’s depreciative because of this,” said Rings.

Lane said the suppression does not change bond considerations and left Fox’s bond in place at $200,000.

Augenstein’s sentencing is currently scheduled for October, but could be pushed back if Fox’s trial is continued. He faces eight years in prison on the second-degree felony charge.