A southeast Ohio Army veteran has been sentenced to prison for stealing guns in London, which his attorney says stemmed from untreated drug addiction related to PTSD.
Eric J. Bates, 36, of Roseville, pleaded guilty to two counts receiving stolen property, both fourth-degree felonies, grand theft, a third-degree felony, and failure to appear, a fourth-degree felony. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
His attorney, Joes Juarez Jr., asked for his client to be put on community control, arguing that Bates’ judgment has been blurred by years of abusing prescription Xanax.
“He was honorably discharged in 2006,” said Juarez. “After his discharge from the Army, he witnessed a traumatic event which contributed to his PTSD, where his girlfriend of seven months committed suicide in front of him. Based on that experience, he was prescribed Xanax which led to drug addiction that ultimately has not been treated.”
Bates also told Judge Eamon Costello he was taking the anxiety medication in excess, taking his and other’s pills, which were altering his decision-making abilities.
“Now with a clear head, I would say I need some kind of treatment,” he said. “For the first time I would like to go to some in-house rehab or somewhere where I can learn to wean off of this medication.”
Assistant Prosecutor Nicholas Adkins argued past theft convictions, unsuccessful probation sentences and what he felt was a lack of remorse did not make the defendant conducive to community control and asked the court for a prison sentence.
“He proceeded to blame the victim for his predicament and accuses the victim of insurance fraud,” he said, citing a PSI report.
Costello said he felt the rap sheet Bates had developed over the last 10 years did not show a man who was interested in recovering, stating that he had been given many chances before.
“You’ve been in and out of courts for 10 years now, and at several points the court has tried to give you aid,” he said. “And to be honest to you, not one of them succeeded.”
Last December, Bates asked a friend to pick him up in Lancaster. When the friend left to get him, Bates broke into his London residence and stole a 20-gauge pump shotgun and an AR-15 rifle, according to a London police report.
Adkins said Bates’ cellphone was found near the safe where the guns were stolen from.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Department found the two guns, along with drug paraphernalia, in Bates’ car during a traffic stop.
Bates claimed that the victim was trying to perform insurance fraud on the weapons with him and split the money to buy drugs, which Costello said he found made little sense.
Bates failed to show up for his Dec. 30 arraignment, giving rise to the failure to appear charge.
Other criminal cases heard on Friday:
• Bethany Ellars, 30, of London, pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor for misuse of a credit card and placed on one year of probation.
In return for her plea, a charge of theft, a fifth-degree felony, was dropped.
According to Adkins, Ellars found a debit card in an ATM and used it to make purchases online, totaling about $700.
Her attorney, Robert Beck, said she was desperate for money while going through a rough divorce and impulsively took the card as an opportunity to buy things.
When the police came to her home, she admitted to the crimes and showed them the purchases she made.
During negotiations with the prosecution, she asked for the felony charge to be dropped so she could continue her job.
Costello said that everyone makes mistakes and that life can be hard, but warned her to never steal again lest she build a larger rap sheet for herself, citing a previous misdemeanor conviction.
“You’re starting to write a story seen by people like me,” he said. “It’s the kind of story you don’t want associated with your name.”
The judge encouraged her to take the opportunity to turn her life around.
• Aaron Chitison, 31, of Columbus, appeared for his informal pretrial hearing where he entered a guilty plea.
Chitison was charged with two counts of illegal conveyance of drugs, both third-degree felonies.
The second count was dropped in return for his plea.
He allegedly mailed buprenorphine, an opioid, to his brother, an inmate at Madison Correctional.
All letters are inspected before being delivered to inmates. Once the contraband was discovered, authorities reviewed phone calls between the brothers discussing the scheme.
He is set to be sentenced on July 21.
• Jordan Mccluskey, 26, of Springfield, appeared for his informal pretrial hearing on a fifth-degree felony charge of drug possession, specifically Alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication more commonly known under brands such as Xanax or Niravam.
He is set to appear for a formal pretrial hearing on July 6.
• Jessie Crissinger, 30, of Columbus, appeared for his informal pretrial hearing on a fifth-degree felony count of theft and a fourth-degree felony for misuse of credit cards.
A formal pretrial hearing is set for July 6.
• Joshua Oxendine, 22, of Columbus, was in for his informal pretrial hearing. He is accused of theft and forgery, both fifth-degree felonies as well as misuse of credit cards, a first-degree misdemeanor.
His formal pretrial hearing is scheduled for July 6.
• Brian S. Jones, 40, of Galloway, appeared for his informal pretrial hearing. He is accused of two fifth-degree felony drug possession charges, specifically having Lorazepam and Zolpidem.
He is set to appear in court again on July 6 for a formal pretrial hearing.
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617 or on Twitter @MSFKwiat.