Belpre man convicted for home invasion released early

CHAD PLAUCHE-ADKINS The Marietta Times Aaron Ratliff was released from prison after a hearing in Washington County Common Pleas Court Friday.

A Belpre man was released early from a four-year prison sentence Friday due to his cooperation with the state.

Aaron Ratliff, 24, was sentenced in January of 2017 for his role in a Belpre home invasion the year before. Ratliff, along with his brother and two other people broke into the home located at 2509 Valley View Drive, forcing their way into the home wearing masks, brandishing guns, knives and machetes. After entering the home, a warning shot was fired and a fight broke out between the men and the occupants of the home. More than $300 and marijuana was stolen from the residence. The victims, including several juveniles, were held hostage at knife- and gunpoint as the robbery occurred.

Ratliff was convicted and received four years in prison for three first-degree felony counts of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and kidnapping. Ratliff was the only member of the group who testified for the state during trials of the other men.

Ratliff appeared before Washington County Common Pleas Judge Randall Burnworth, who is filling in for Judge John Triplett while he recovers from medical issues. Ratliff was there to receive a judicial release that was agreed upon with the Washington Count Prosecutor’s Office.

“What you guys did that day was a horrible thing,” Burnworth said before releasing Ratliff.

Burnworth said the only reason he was letting Ratliff out of prison after serving 822 days of his four-year sentence was because he was the only defendant to testify for the state.

“You notice your brother isn’t here,” Burnworth said.

Ratliff smiled as Burnworth released him to his parents, who attended the hearing.

Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Joe Derkin said the majority of judicial release requests are denied. He said his office decided because of Ratliff’s participation with the state, an exception was made.

“It’s very unusual,” he said.

Ratliff’s co-defendants, James Ault, 22, of Parkersburg, William Mitchell, 22, of Marietta, and Ratliff’s brother Zachary, 23, are all still serving the four years in prison to which they were sentenced in 2017.

At a glance

•Ratliff was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in a 2016 home invasion in Belpre.

•Ratliff served 822 days of his sentence before receiving his judicial release on Friday.

•Judge Randall Burnworth said the only reason Ratliff received the early release was due to his cooperation with the state during the original trial.

Source: Times research.