Men plead guilty in fatal Middletown burglary in which co-conspirator was killed

Two men have pleaded guilty in an attempted burglary that turned deadly last summer in Middletown.

Andrew Roberts, 23, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and aggravated burglary in February with gun specifications, and Jonathan Oatneal Jr., 24, entered the same plea in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Monday.

Roberts and Oatneal were each indicted in September for murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary. In exchange for the guilty pleas, remaining charges were dismissed.

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They both face a maximum of 28 years in prison. Judge Greg Stephens set sentencing June 14 for Oatneal, and Roberts’ sentencing is scheduled for April 19

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.

Middletown police were called to Atrium Medical Center on a report of a man suffering from a gunshot wound. The other two men took him to the hospital and left. They were spotted a short time later in the city and arrested.

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According to court documents filed at the time of arrest, the trio drove to the residence in Riverside Mobile Home Park to commit the burglary and robbery. Roberts told police he handed a gun to Joshua Oatneal and all three ran up to the residence.

There were two men outside, and Roberts said they told the men to get inside and attempted to steal money from James Invey, according to the complaint signed by Middletown detectives.

“Roberts advised once inside the residence James Invey started shooting at Josh Oatneal. Roberts advised Josh Oatneal returned fire shooting at victim James Invey,” according to the complaint.

Invey told police Josh Oatneal tried to shoot him, and he was able to arm himself then shot Josh Oatneal in the chest.

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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