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Marietta man pleads guilty to a third-degree felony

Photo by Janelle Patterson James A. McKnight, right, appears for a change of plea hearing in Washington County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday with Attorney Beau Cross.

A Marietta man pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony in exchange for the dismissal of felony bomb-making charges.

James Allen McKnight, 45, of 26 Colegate Drive, Marietta, was indicted in March 2020 on three charges, including two counts of unlawful possession of dangerous ordnance-illegally manufacturing or processing explosives, both fifth-degree felonies, and one count of improperly discharging firearm at or into a habitation, in a school safety zone or with intent to cause harm or panic to persons in a school building or at a school function, a second-degree felony.

That final charge was reduced to a third-degree felony “attempted improperly discharging firearm at or into a habitation” Tuesday before Washington County Common Pleas Judge Mark Kerenyi.

Kerenyi noted an agreed disposition between McKnight’s defense counsel, attorney Beau Cross, and the appointed special prosecutor Kelly Riddle (who takes office as a common pleas judge in Noble County in April) which will consider time served while under the supervision of community control at a later sentencing hearing following a pre-sentence investigation.

According to law enforcement reports, on March 4, Marietta Police officers reportedly were contacted to perform a welfare check on McKnight. While there, officers found several bullet holes exiting a window that appeared as if the bullet would have struck a neighbor’s house. Officers executed a search warrant and recovered firearms and a homemade explosive device.

The Washington County Prosecutor’s office was recused from the case due to a conflict of interest.

And in May of last year, McKnight, who had previously pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, was found capable of understanding the legal proceedings brought against him.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com

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