POMEROY — The final of three co-defendants charged in the assault and kidnapping of a Meigs County woman pleaded guilty on Thursday in Meigs County Common Pleas Court.
Merissa Starcher, 35, of Pomeroy, pleaded guilty to charges of rape and kidnapping in connection with the March 7 incident in which a woman was reportedly raped, kidnapped and assaulted by Starcher, Nathan Grimm and Brooke Watson. Grimm and Watson previously pleaded guilty to charges in the case.
In a separate case, Starcher pleaded guilty to possession of drugs (methamphetamine) and operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI).
Additional charges in both cases were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. Prosecutor James K. Stanley stated that those charges would have mostly merged with the charges which Starcher pleaded guilty to for the purpose of sentencing.
Judge I. Carson Crow sentenced Starcher in accordance with the joint sentencing recommendation from the prosecution and defense.
Starcher was sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison and must register as a Tier III sex offender which requires registration for life.
According to previous Sentinel reports, deputies with the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office were called to the Curtis Hollow Road area of Meigs County on the afternoon of March 7 for a woman who had allegedly been beaten and was bleeding.
The victim was reportedly beaten, punched, and hit with a ball bat several times by all involved. The victim also alleged being sexually assaulted.
The victim was then reportedly blindfolded, placed into a car and driven to Putnam Drive next to Forked Run Lake. While in the car, the victim stated that her hair was cut but did not know by whom. Once they arrived to a pull-off spot on Putnam Drive overlooking the lake, the victim stated that she was drug from the car and shoved over a cliff which was several feet down where she sustained the severe injury to her arm.
The victim was in court on Thursday but did not address the court. She is in agreement with the sentence according to statements by Stanley and Victim Advocate Shelley Kemper.
Grimm was previously sentenced to 15 years in prison for kidnapping and attempted murder.
Watson, who was the alleged “ring-leader” according to Stanley, was sentenced to a total prison term of 22 years for charges of kidnapping, felonious assault, illegal conveyance of drugs onto the grounds of a detention facility and possession of drugs. She has since filed an appeal.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.