GALLIPOLIS — In what was, indeed, a last-minute plea agreement, Cole C. Miller — the man accused of shooting Ptl. James Bartels on Sept. 24, 2012 — pleaded guilty to three counts of felonious assault on Monday morning, on what would have been the opening day of his jury trial in the Common Pleas Court of Gallia County.
Gallia County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Eric Mulford reported that Miller, 30, of Gallipolis, pleaded guilty on Monday to count two of his indictment — knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to Ptl. Bartels; count three — knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to Ptl. Shallon Schuldt; and count four — knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to Dep. Fred Workman.
Counts one — attempted aggravated murder; count five — obstructing official business; and count six — resisting arrest, were dismissed by the state of Ohio as part of the plea agreement as these charges were allied offenses of the other three counts of the indictment.
Miller, who has remained incarcerated in the Southeastern Regional Jail in Nelsonville under a $1 million, 10 percent bond since his arrest, was scheduled to appear on Monday morning for a jury trial in the common pleas court. However, prior to the seating of a jury on Monday, the court was advised that Miller wished to enter a plea.
Mulford stated that, due to the facts in this case, the prosecution is pleased with the plea agreement.
“Based on the nature of the evidence, and the fact that counts one, five and six were allied offenses as compared to counts two, three, and four, the guilty plea will result in the same conclusion that we felt we would have received had the case proceeded to trial,” he said.
In addition, Miller will be facing a mandatory seven-year term of imprisonment from a gun specification that, as outlined on his indictment, specifies that, on the date of the offenses, the defendant discharged a firearm at a peace officer.
According to Mulford, the plea agreement calls for a minimum of 20 years in prison, with the maximum 11 years of imprisonment for the felonious assault against Ptl. Bartels.
“The prosecutor’s office is pleased to be able to resolve this case without putting the victims through the ordeal of testifying about that horrific night,” Mulford said. “In addition, an underlying term of the plea agreement is that the defendant will receive the maximum sentence on the count related to the victim, Ptl. Bartels.”
On Thursday, Miller, who is being represented by attorney Samuel Shamansky, of Columbus, withdrew his previously entered plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, entering a general plea of not guilty to all counts of his indictment.
Miller was previously found competent to stand trial last year following a court-ordered psychological evaluation of the defendant. A second evaluation was ordered to be completed late last year, but the defense later advised the court that the defendant no longer desired to have this second evaluation performed.
The defendant was arrested during the early morning hours of Sept. 24, 2012, after he fired upon police officers who had responded to his McCormick Road residence in reference to a neighbor dispute.
Miller had confronted his neighbor, and, prior to the arrival of the officers, had reportedly shot a car belonging to this neighbor.
The defendant’s residence lies just outside the Gallipolis city limits, but, on the night of the incident, Gallipolis police officers were requested to respond to the scene by Dep. Fred Workman who had been dispatched to assist other deputies on scene at an active methamphetamine lab in the southern portion of the county.
As the deputy quickly traveled northward back toward McCormick Road, two city police officers, Ptl. Jamie Bartels and Ptl. Shallon Schuldt, responded to the Miller residence.
Upon their arrival, Miller allegedly refused to exit his home, and, as the sheriff’s deputy arrived on scene, the suspect reportedly fired shots at Bartels, Schuldt and Workman.
Bartels was wounded during the incident, receiving a gun shot wound in the arm from a 12 gauge shotgun, and was rushed to the Holzer Medical Center emergency room by third city police officer who had arrived on scene after initial shots were fired.
Following the shooting, Miller reportedly exited his residence and surrendered to the officers remaining on scene and was taken into custody.
Ptl. Bartels was later transported to Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, W.Va., where he has subsequently undergone extensive surgeries.
Fellow Assistant Gallia County Prosecutor Britt Wiseman also commented on this case on Monday afternoon, praising the continued efforts of local law enforcement officers and their work on this case to bring about justice for their fellow officer.
“This case serves as a reminder to the community that our police officers and deputy sheriffs perform a dangerous job and put their lives on the line for us,” Wiseman said. “We greatly appreciate the work of the police department, sheriff’s office, and the crime scene investigators of Ohio BCI to bring about a successful conclusion to this case. We look forward to a sentencing hearing where the defendant is held accountable for his choices.”
As of press time, a sentencing hearing had yet to be scheduled in this case and will be held at a later date in the common pleas courtroom.