Guilty plea ends 10-month ordeal in Butler County RV business owner’s assault case

A Butler County businessman pleaded guilty Thursday in Butler County Common Pleas Court to a felony charge for assaulting his wife at their West Chester Twp. home in March.

Jeffery Couch, 52, of West Chester Twp., pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, a fourth-degree felony, for causing a head injury to his wife Shelley during an argument outside their Tamarron Drive house.

Couch was arrested during the early-morning hours of March 2, 2019 and later indicted by a Butler County grand jury for felonious assault, a second-degree felony, attempted felonious assault and misdemeanor domestic violence.

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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.

The felonious assault charge was reduced to aggravated assault, and the other charges were dismissed in exchange for the plea.

Couch faces the maximum of 18 months in prison, but the prosecution indicated at the hearing they would not be opposed to Couch receiving community control. Judge Michael Oster Jr. set sentencing for Feb. 24.

Gmoser outlined the facts of the case during the plea hearing, saying the Couches were arguing on the night of the incident and Couch snapped.

“As a result of him snapping there was an assault that ended up with the imprint of Shelley Couch’s head on an asphalt driveway in two places … an earring found in one the bloody imprints,” Gmoser said.

Shelley Couch was taken to the hospital and received a serious head injury, he said.

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A neighbor recorded Shelley Couch screaming for help, and the witness has been subjected to social media intimidation and harassment, Gmoser said.

“There have been enough pots stirred in this case to equip a French kitchen,” Gmoser said, adding intimidation will be taken seriously and most stop or charges could result.

But the prosecution did not point to the Couches as those using social media for intimidation.

On Dec. 16, Judge Greg 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.

Oster made it clear he was going to do everything in his power to assure he was able to finish the case with no outside influences.

Couch’s attorney, R. Scott Croswell III, said Couch has undergone alcohol treatment and anger management and requested that he be permitted to move back to his home. A existing condition of his bond was that he not be in the home he shared with his wife.

Shelley Couch spoke briefly Thursday, stating she she was not afraid and it was her wish that her husband be permitted to return.

Oster permitted Couch to return to the home, but he must wear a bracelet that will detect if he consumes alcohol.

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