Appeals ruling prompts resentencing for man in fatal Middletown burglary in which co-conspirator was killed

Andrew Roberts BUTLER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Andrew Roberts BUTLER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

Decision calls for more explanation on term, with hearing scheduled for Friday.

One of two men who pleaded guilty in an attempted burglary that turned deadly last summer in Middletown was sentenced to prison Monday, but he will be back in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Friday for a resentencing after an appellate court ruling.

Andrew Roberts, 23, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and aggravated burglary in February with gun specifications. He and co-defendant Jonathan Oatneal Jr., 24, were each indicted in September for murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary. In exchange for the guilty pleas, the remaining charges were dismissed.

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Roberts faces a maximum sentence of 28 years in prison with an additional 5.5 years behind bars that can be imposed by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction if Roberts gets into trouble while incarcerated.

During a hearing Monday, Judge Greg Stephens sentenced Roberts, but after a ruling the same day by the 12th District Court of Appeals calling for more explanation on the indefinite term, Stephens scheduled a re-sentencing hearing for Friday.

In the Warren County appellate case for a man sentenced for robbery, the court ruled the sentencing court should advise the defendant with specific wording in the statute about the indefinite sentence laid out in the Reagan Tokes Law. In other words, the defendant should be read the penalties verbatim to comply with the law.

“We emphasize that our reversal and remand are only for the purpose of comply with the forgoing statute and in no way affects the underlying conviction or any other aspect of the sentence imposed by the court,” the 12the District court said in the opinion.

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Roberts’ attorney David Washington said his client does understand his sentence as it was stated at the sentencing but understands why the judge is redoing the hearing.

“It won’t change anything,” Washington said.

Earlier this month, Oatneal took the same plea deal. His sentencing is set for June 14.

The two were charged in an Aug. 19, 2020 incident during which Roberts, Jonathan Oatneal Jr. and Oatneal’s brother, Joshua Oatneal, attempted to rob a man in the 2600 block of Aspen Drive. The resident shot and killed Joshua Oatneal.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the surviving men in the alleged burglary are charged with murder because they are complicit in the criminal activity that led Joshua Oatneal’s death.

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