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Middletown man pleads guilty to killing 2 women

UPDATE@10:45 a.m.:

There will be no trial for James Geran, the Middletown man facing two murder charges for killing two women last summer then turning the gun on himself after a standoff in Trenton.

Geran, 45, pleaded guilty today in Butler County Common Pleas Court to aggravated murder for shooting his girlfriend’s mother, Sharon McCleary, in the head on June 13 and murder for the fatal shooting of Megan Motter the day before.

The charges each carry three-year gun specification, which increases the sentence, and the prosecution has agreed the charges will run concurrent in exchange for the plea. Additional charges of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation and two counts of having weapons under disability were dismissed in exchange for a plea.

James Geran, a Middletown man charged after fatal standoff in Trenton last summer has pleaded guilty to aggavated murder and murder for killing two women before turning the gun on himself. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF (Staff Writer)

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Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 17 by Judge Keith Spaeth. Geran faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The minimum sentence is life in prison with the possibility of parole after 26 years.

Despite a self-inflicted gunshot to the face as the standoff ended, Geran answered the judge’s questions, assuring him he wanted to give up his right to a trial.

If Geran had decided against the guilty plea, about 40 perspective jurors were waiting for selection to begin.

Gina McCleary, Sharon’s daughter and Geran’s girlfriend, was in the courtroom.

She said she is still not sure why Geran shot her mother.

“I am pretty sure he did it. It is just the reasoning why,” Gina McCleary said, added it could have been an accident. She said Geran confessed he had killed Motter when he came to the Trenton townhouse she shared with her sister and mother.

Gina McCleary said she is in love with Geran and visits him at the jail weekly.

“He took the plea for me. I asked him to,” she said.

Motter’s mother Chandra Potschner, who lives in Stark County, was also in the courtroom in for the plea. Tears rolled down her face.

“I just want to know why,” she said.

INITIAL STORY

Jury selection begins today in Butler County Common Pleas Court in the trial of Middletown man facing two murder charges for allegedly killing two women during a standoff in Trenton before turning the gun on himself last summer.

James Geran, 45, is accused of killing his “business associate in criminal activity” and dumping her body before killing his girlfriend’s mother during a standoff with deputies on June 13 in Trenton. He has been held on $4 million bond since his arrest that day.

MORE: Girlfriend of double murder suspect says he admitted to first crime

Geran is charged with aggravated murder for the death of Sharon McCleary during the standoff, and the murder charge is for the death of Megan Motter the day before. In addition to two murder charges, Geran has been indicted for felonious assault, improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation and two counts of having weapons under disability.

Judge Keith Spaeth has requested 55 potential jurors. The trial is scheduled for two weeks.

MORE: Suicide attempt may be used as evidence at double murder trial

Geran, a convicted felon, is accused of shooting Motter in the head, killing her and dumping her body off Woodsdale Road in Madison Twp.

The investigation of Motter’s death led deputies to the Trenton apartment.

When deputies knocked on the door of the Sal Boulevard apartment, Geran shot at them, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Over the course of about two hours, Geran continued to fire between five to eight times at the deputies outside. Negotiators talked him into releasing two sisters, one his girlfriend.

However, when Geran let the second sister out, he immediately closed the door and deputies heard gunfire.

MORE: Defense lawyers get $10,000 to pay experts in man’s double murder trial

Geran then crawled out, having shot himself in the chin with a .380 caliber gun, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said in June.

Inside the apartment, deputies found McCleary dead.

Prosecutors have filed a motion to have Geran’s suicide attempt used as evidence of guilt at the trial.

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