Why 2 men allegedly part of a Middletown burglary attempt were charged with murder

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

A Butler County grand jury has indicted two men for murder and other felonies after an alleged attempted burglary last month at a Middletown residence.

Jonathan Oatneal, 23, and Andrew Roberts, 22, were each indicted Wednesday for murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary. They both remain housed in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $750,000 bond each.

The indictments stem from an August incident during which the two 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.

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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 both are charged with two counts of murder and two counts of aggravated burglary.

The case has been assigned to Common Pleas Court Judge Greg Stephens, but an arraignment date on the indicted charges has not been set Wednesday afternoon.

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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 them to get inside and attempted to steal money from James Invey, according to the complaint signed by Detective Steve Winters.

“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 last month 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.

“Because they are complicit in the offense that gives rise to the shooting, even if it wasn’t a shooting by one of the criminals, it is a shooting by the homeowner for the right reason in self defense, they are accomplices and aiders and abettors,” Gmoser said.

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