POMEROY — A Syracuse woman was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to felony charges in two separate cases in Meigs County Common Pleas Court.
April M. Ritchhart, 39, pleaded guilty to felonious assault, a second-degree felony, in connection with an April incident, as well as two counts of abduction, third-degree felonies, and one count of assault on a peace officer, a fourth-degree felony, from a June incident. Twelve misdemeanor charges against Ritchhart from the June incident were dismissed as part of the plea.
The felonious assault charge stems from an incident in which Ritchhart reportedly rammed a vehicle in the village of Racine, while the remaining charges are from an incident at an in-home daycare in Middleport.
Judge I. Carson Crow sentenced Rithchart to two years in prison on the felonious assault charge, plus three years on the two abduction charges and 18 months on the assault of a peace officer charge. The sentences on the abduction and assault on a peace officer are to run concurrent to one another for three years total, which is to run consecutive to the felonious assault sentence for a total of five years in prison.
All but one of the eight victims in the case were in agreement with the plea agreements and sentence Victim Advocate Shelley Kemper told the court. Assistant Prosecutor Jeff Adkins stated that the victim who was not in agreement in the case wanted to see more prison time on the case and for it to go to a jury trial. Adkins explained that the maximum sentence on the charge involving the victim was the 36 month sentence on the abduction charge. Even with a conviction at a jury trial there could not have been a longer sentence on the charge.
Prosecutor James K. Stanley said after the hearing that the Victim Assistance Office had worked hard to maintain contact with the eight victims and to work toward a resolution in the case.
Stanley noted the importance of the resolution without going to trial as it kept the young victims in the case from being brought into the court to testify.
Ritchhart was arrested on June 2 in Middleport after an incident at an in-home daycare in the village. Ritchhart reportedly attempted to abduct two children from the daycare who were not related to her.
Ritchhart was indicted on two counts of abduction, one count of assault of a peace officer, one count of criminal child enticement, one count of making false alarms, two counts of inducing panic, one count of aggravated menacing,one count of falsification, one count of criminal trespass, one count of unlawful restraint, one count of resisting arrest, one count of obstructing official business, one count of possession of drugs, and one count of public indecency.
Abduction as charged is a third degree felony. The charges state that Ritchhart is alleged to have restrained the liberty of the two minor victims using force or threat, under circumstances that created a risk of physical harm to the victim or placed them in fear.
Assault of a peace officer is a fourth-degree felony. According to the indictment, Ritchhart is alleged to have knowingly caused or attempted to cause physical harm to a Meigs County Sheriff’s Deputy.
In the felonious assault case, Ritchhart reportedly rammed a vehicle in Racine which had four individuals inside it.
Meigs County Prosecutor James K. Stanley told the Sentinel, at the time of the arraignment, that during the incident Ritchhart allegedly believed her children were in the trunk of the vehicle and she reportedly rammed it in order to get the vehicle to stop. There were no children in the trunk, Stanley stated.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.