A Butler County businessman accused of assaulting his wife will be back in Butler County Common Pleas Court later this week after a new pre-trial hearing date was set.
Jeffery Couch, 52, of West Chester Twp., was arrested during the early-morning hours of March 2, 2019 at his Tamarron Drive home.
Court documents say West Chester police allege Couch “did knowingly cause serious physical harm to Shelley Couch” when he punched his wife in the face “multiple times and slammed her head onto a paved driveway multiple times.” He is charged with felonious assault, attempted felonious assault and misdemeanor domestic violence
The case was taken directly to a grand jury by Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser, who said he wanted to make sure there was transparency in the case of the well-known businessman. Couch is the owner of Jeff Couch’s RV Nation in Trenton.
A trial was originally set to begin Sept. 23 but was cancelled, and a hearing was scheduled for Jan. 13 before Judge Greg Stephens.
On Dec. 16, Stephens recused himself from the case, and three other common pleas judges — Charles Pater, Noah Powers II and Keith Spaeth — did the same between Dec. 19 and Jan. 9.
The judges gave no reasons for the recusals and legally do not have to do so.
Judge Michael Oster was assigned the case, and after meeting with prosecutors and Couch’s attorney, R. Scott Croswell III, in chambers on Monday, he set the court date for later this week. The judge indicated there would be a resolution to the case or it would be set for trial.
Both Couch and Shelley Couch were in the courthouse for Monday’s hearing, but Shelley Couch did not enter the courtroom.
Last summer, Croswell filed a motion to exclude some statements from the witnesses at trial, including the alleged victim, Shelley Couch, police and medical personnel, arguing they were hearsay.
A neighbor recorded audio of the alleged incident on her cell phone, according to court documents.
“(The neighbor) heard what she described as an argument close in time to the alleged assault. She was with a friend and heard the argument through her bedroom window. She had the good sense to record the voices she heard by her cell phone and recognized the voices she heard as her neighbors, defendant Jeffrey Couch and Shelley Couch, the alleged victim,” Gmoser wrote in the response to the defense motion.
“In addition to her recollection and impression of the words spoken, on the recording the defendant is clearly heard saying ‘(expletive) you. Go call the cops. Let’s go inside first.’ Shelley Couch responds yelling, ‘help,’ and is then heard with a shrieking scream.”
Three additional witnesses recounted essentially the same event on the night of the assault, Gmoser said in the court document.
Stephens ruled the statements and audio, along with others witness statements, would be permitted at trial
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