One man admits guilt in deadly Middletown robbery attempt that killed alleged co-conspirator

Andrew Roberts, left, Jonathan Oatneal Jr., right. Middletown Division of Police
Andrew Roberts, left, Jonathan Oatneal Jr., right. Middletown Division of Police

One of two men charged in an attempted burglary that turned deadly last summer in Middletown has admitted guilt.

Andrew Roberts, 22, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and aggravated burglary earlier this month in Butler County Common Pleas Court. Gun specifications add three years for each charge to a prison sentence. He could receive that maximum sentence of 16 1/2 years in prison for each charge on April 5.

Roberts was charged in an Aug. 19, 2020 incident during which Roberts, Jonathan Oatneal Jr. and Oatneal’s brother, Joshua Oatneal, allegedly attempted to rob a man in the 2600 block of Aspen Drive. The resident shot and killed Joshua Oatneal in the incident.

Middletown police were called at 12:02 a.m. to Atrium Medical Center on a report of a man suffering from a gunshot wound. The other two men took him to the hospital and left. They were spotted a short time later in the city, and arrested.

Roberts and Jonathan Oatneal, 23, were each indicted in September for murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

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Jonathan Oatneal is scheduled to be back in common pleas court April 5 for a hearing on a motion to suppress. Defense attorney Christopher Frederick said Oatneal was not properly advised of his rights during 10 hours of questioning by detectives.

According to court documents filed at the time of arrest in Middletown Municipal Court, the trio drove to the residence in Riverside Mobile Home Park to commit the burglary and robbery. Roberts told police he handed a gun to Joshua Oatneal, and all three ran up to the residence.

There were two men outside, and Roberts said they told the men to get inside and attempted to steal money from James Invey, according to the complaint signed by Middletown detectives.

“Roberts advised once inside the residence James Invey started shooting at Josh Oatneal. Roberts advised Josh Oatneal returned fire shooting at victim James Invey,” according to the complaint.

Invey told police Josh Oatneal tried to shoot him, and he was able to arm himself then shot Josh Oatneal in the chest.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the surviving men in the alleged burglary are charged with murder because they are complicit in the criminal activity that led Joshua Oatneal’s death.

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