Couch was arraigned last week by a magistrate in Butler County Area II Court, where bond was set at $16,000. A protection order was also issued for Couch to stay away from his wife. He was free on bond within hours.
At the arraignment, Assistant County Prosecutor Jim Monk indicated Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser intended to take the case directly to a grand jury for consideration.
“We want the process to be fair and transparent, and if he thinks that is the best way to proceed, I have no objection,” Couch’s attorney, Erik Niehaus, said last week after the hearing.
Gmoser said evidence from police and the hospital, not just the victim, will determine the facts.
“This woman was screaming for help. She was apparently injured to the point where she had to go to a hospital and we will get to the bottom of the seriousness of those injuries,” Gmoser said.
The prosecutor said that, in the case of a felony charge, cooperation from a victim is not needed.
“I am always concerned when I have injuries that do not rise to the level of anything more that a misdemeanor. I don’t like to chase those cases on misdemeanors because it may be a case where the parties can work something out and I don’t want to interfere with those given the criminal context,” Gmoser said.
MORE: Chief: Fatal Middletown fire not suspicious, victim’s disability prevented escape
“However, in a felony charge, the victim is merely a witness in the case. This is a case brought by the state of Ohio. I handle murder cases all the time where the victim is dead. We don’t need the victim to tell me what they want to do.”
Niehaus said during last Monday’s arraignment that he talked to Shelley Couch, who told him she was not opposed to Jeffery Couch being released on bond if a protection order were issued.
Niehaus said during the hearing that he talked to the alleged victim by phone before her husband’s arraignment.
“She told me she was not in fear of him,” Niehaus said. “She indicated to me that she has no fractures … I don’t believe there was serious physical harm in this matter, so I am not sure felonious assault is even in play in this case from what I have heard so far.”
Couch is the owner of Jeff Couch’s RV Nation in Trenton. He was booked into the Butler County Jail and held without bond over the weekend. He was charged at 1:34 a.m. March 2 after police said he assaulted his wife on the way home from an event.
MORE: What we know: Body pulled from drainage reservoir ID’d