POMEROY — A little more than five mouths after the crimes took place, James E. Gardner has entered a guilty plea to the charge of murder and aggravated robbery.
James E. Gardner, 41, formerly of Middleport, admitted to the charge of murder, a special classification felony, and aggravated robbery, a first degree felony.
James W. Gardner, the father of the defendant, was found dead at his residence on Paulins Hill Road, in Rutland Township near the Gallia County line on November 11, 2012. At the time of the death, the unofficial cause was blunt force trauma, and James E. Gardner was labeled a person of interest by Williams and then Sheriff Robert E. Beegle.
The younger Gardner was on the run from law enforcement officials for nearly a month before he was apprehended by Gallia County Sheriff’s Deputies near Blessing Road in Gallia County.
Gardner had been indicted on one count of aggravated murder and three counts of aggravated robbery by the grand jury in Dec. 2012. Under the terms of the plea agreement the two additional counts of aggravated robbery were dismissed. The three counts of aggravated robbery involve stealing a truck, four-wheeler and credit cards from his deceased father, Meigs Count Prosecutor Colleen Williams said at the time of the indictment.
Gardner appeared along with his attorney Herman Carson in court on Tuesday morning to enter a guilty plea under the terms of an agreement reached with the Meigs County Prosecutor.
After asking the defendant a series of questions, Meigs County Common Pleas Judge I. Carson Crow accepted the guilty pleas and proceeded directly to sentencing.
Crow sentenced Gardner to an indefinite term of 15 years to life in prison, the mandatory term associated with the charge of murder. The single count of aggravated robbery was merged with the murder charge for the purpose of sentencing.
Gardner simply sat with his head down as his sister and daughter of the victim, Robin Eurell, addressed the court.
Speaking on behalf of the family Eurell said that they stood there in honor of there father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
“We not only lost our dad, but our brother we once knew,” Eurell said. “We don’t know the person who could have done this heinous act.”
She also asked if there was regret, remorse or sorrow.
Gardner did not address the court other than answer the questions from Crow by saying “no,” “yes sir,” or “guilty.”
Defense attorney Herman Carson, speaking on behalf of Gardner, said that the defendant wished he could trade places with his father or receive the death penalty.
“He is aware that he caused the death of his father and how it has effected the other family members,” said Carson. “His preference would be to change places with his father, but of course he can’t, or receive the death penalty as he expressed early on to at least one family member.”
In addition, through the guilty plea, Gardner waives any right to participate in his late father’s estate.
Gardner has been housed in the Washington County Jail since his arrest in early December. He will now be transferred to a state prison.
The case was investigated by the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI&I) at the request of the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office.