Witness statements, including an audio recording of the alleged assault, will be permitted at the trial of a Butler County businessman accused of assaulting his wife at their West Chester Twp. residence.
Jeffery Couch, 51, of West Chester Twp., was in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing on charges of felonious assault, attempted felonious assault and misdemeanor domestic violence. He was arrested during the early morning hours of March 2 at his Tamarron Drive home.
Couch’s four-day trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 23 in Judge Greg Stephens’ courtroom. He remains free on bond.
Defense attorney R. Scott Croswell III filed a motion to exclude some statements from from witnesses at trial, including the alleged victim Shelley Couch, police and medical personnel, arguing they were hearsay.
There was no hearing on Wednesday after the defense and prosecution met in chambers, but the judge did rule on the motions, which could change depending on evidence at trial.
The 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.”
A neighbor audio recorded 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,” County Prosecutor Michael 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.
“Shelley Couch appeared at the … residence where these witnesses were located and at the time consistent with the statement of (the neighbor who made the recording). Ms. Couch was literally covered in blood … claimed in detail that she was beaten by the defendant, was in fear for her life, extremely upset and without shoes in the dead of winter.”
While the defense argued the statements of Shelley Couch are hearsay and “highly prejudicial,” pointing her possible level of intoxication, the prosecution argued they should be permitted under rules of evidence that permit “excited utterances.”
Stephens ruled the statements and audio, along with others witness statements, would be permitted at trial
The case was taken directly to a grand jury by 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.