Sentenced for murder

Randall Ottinger (left) is escorted from the Henry County Common Pleas Courtroom Monday morning following his guilty plea to an amended charge of murder. He will serve at least 18 years and up to life in the murder of his brother, James.

A McClure man charged with killing his brother pleaded guilty to an amended charge Monday morning and faces at least 18 years to life in prison.

Randall Ottinger, 54, was set to appear in Henry County Common Pleas Court for a final pre-trial hearing. However, a plea deal was reached just before the pre-trial was set to begin.

Ottinger was originally charged with aggravated murder with a gun specification in the June death of his brother, James. On Monday, that charge was amended to murder, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Ottinger then pleaded guilty.

The gun specification, which remained as part of the plea deal, adds an automatic three years to the front of the sentence.

Henry County Prosecutor Gwen Howe-Gebers said the deal was fair to citizens of the county, as well as sparing Ottinger’s mother the stress of having to testify against the defense of her son, especially since the victim was her other son.

“He filed a notice of defense a couple of weeks ago, so the only person that could negate that defense would’ve been Mrs. Ottinger,” Howe-Gebers said.

She added she met with the mother a couple of times to explain the situation.

“I think she would do it, but it puts her in a very difficult position,” Howe-Gebers said.

Howe-Gebers said leaving the possibility of life in prison on the end of the sentence was important to Henry County Sheriff Michael Bodenbender and herself.

“The State of Ohio felt it was important to keep the tail-end (life in prison) on (the sentence), because this was an unprovoked murder, given the facts we had before us,” Howe-Gebers said in making the recommendation for sentencing of 18 years to life in prison.

“But after speaking to Mrs. Ottinger this morning, I think we’ve come to a resolution that is both fair to the defendant and especially to the citizens of Henry County,” Howe-Gebers added.

Henry County Common Pleas Court Judge John Collier agreed, and accepted the recommendation and made that the sentence.

“I’m struck by the fact at what Mrs. Ottinger had to endure,” Collier said prior to rendering his decision on the sentence. “So I understand the decision of the state in lowering the level of this case.

“But it doesn’t take away the fact of the act that was completed,” he added.

Collier pointed out the sentence is mandatory, meaning Ottinger will not be eligible for judicial release, but could start accumulating credit for good behavior. Ottinger will also have a mandatory five years of post release control once released from prison.

Given his current age, Ottinger will be 72 if released after the minimum sentence.

Collier did not impose a fine, but Ottinger will be responsible for court costs.

Bodenbender previously reported the sheriff’s office received a 9-1-1 call at approximately 2 p.m. June 5 at M-520 County Road 6 in Damascus Township in regard to shots fired from a firearm and a deceased individual.

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I started at the Northwest Signal in 1994 and became editor in 2004. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1994.

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