Prosecutor: Wife’s cooperation not needed to pursue charges against Butler County RV business owner

A preliminary hearing for Butler County businessman Jeffery Couch, who is accused of assaulting his wife, will not happen today in Butler County Area II Court, according to county Prosecutor Michael Gmoser.

West Chester Twp. police charged Couch, 51, of Tamarron Drive in West Chester Twp., early Saturday morning for felonious assault and misdemeanor domestic violence. The court documents say police allege he “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.”

Couch was arraigned by a magistrate Monday morning. Bond was set at $16,000 and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for this afternoon. 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 Gmoser intended to take the case directly to a grand jury for consideration. Gmoser told the Journal-News on Tuesday the scheduled preliminary hearing would be continued and he would present the case to a grand jury next week.

Couch’s attorney, Erik Niehaus, said he has no objection.

“We want the process to be fair and transparent, and if he thinks that is the best way to proceed, I have no objection,” Niehaus said.

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 in the case of a felony charge, cooperation from a victim is not needed.

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“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.

“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 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 on Sunday.

“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. Saturday after police said he assaulted his wife on the way home from an event.

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