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Marietta woman sentenced to five years for shooting at husband

Photo by Michele Newbanks Michelle Ames sits quietly in courtroom B of the Washington County Courthouse with her attorney, Ray Smith, as she was sentenced Friday morning to five years in prison for felonious assault.

The minimum sentence of five years in prison was handed down Friday to a Marietta woman found guilty of felonious assault for shooting at her husband.

Michelle Ames, 42, of 141 Franklin St., was found guilty on Nov. 20 for the assault, which followed a domestic dispute on Oct. 29, 2018.

Before the sentence, Washington County Prosecutor Nicole Coil was given a chance to speak.

“It is unacceptable to discharge a weapon at another person in Washington County when it is not done in self defense. Period.” she said. “It was a series of bad decisions which led Michelle Ames to this moment.”

The evening of the incident, Michelle’s husband, Richard, had a Glock .45 caliber handgun and Michelle said she was afraid he was going to shoot himself, defense attorney Ray Smith said during the trial.

After Richard allegedly threatened her, Michelle took their three children and went to the home of Larry Haught on Dodd Run Road in Warren Township.

Richard then went to Haught’s home, where he allegedly started pounding on the door, demanding the return of his children.

An argument with Haught ensued and as Richard attempted to leave, he put his truck in a ditch across from Haught’s home. When he finally got his truck free, he still refused to leave, Smith said, adding Haught smashed in the passenger window of Richard’s truck trying to get him to leave.

Coil said Ames injected herself into the argument between Richard and Haught. She was safe inside Haught’s home and could have stayed there. She could have called law enforcement, she said.

“Instead, she chose to come out and become a part of the chaos,” Coil added.

When Richard tried to leave, Michelle did not go back inside the home. She went toward the truck with a gun and didn’t just fire a warning shot in the air to get him to leave, she fired in the direction of Richard and the cab of his truck, missing his head by approximately 12 inches, she explained.

One of Michelle’s acquaintances, Russell McCabe, came to pick her up and they left for his house, where they called 911. She admitted to police she shot the gun, hitting the truck.

Coil said there were mitigating factors in favor of Michelle. She has no prior criminal record and Richard had also made bad decisions the night of the incident.

“Michelle Ames made a series of calculated bad decisions which resulted in her discharging her gun at her husband with the intent to cause him serious bodily harm when she had no need for self defense,” Coil said. “Washington County does not and will not tolerate individuals taking matters into their own hands or attempting to cause serious bodily harm to others when there is no need for self defense.”

Michelle was charged with one first-degree count of attempted murder and one count of felonious assault with gun specifications, a second-degree felony. The gun specification was because Michelle used a firearm in the assault.

The jury was deadlocked on the first-degree attempted murder charge, but the jury found her guilty of the felonious assault charge.

When Smith was given the chance to speak Friday, he asked for Michelle to receive the minimum sentence of five years because she had no prior record and her marriage was rocky.

“She is going to have to pay the consequences. She is going to have to do three years on the gun spec, which is mandatory,” he said.

Michelle Ames did not speak on her own behalf. She also did not testify during the two-day trial.

Before passing down the sentence, Washington County Common Pleas Judge Randall Burnworth said he had sat through the trial and heard the evidence on the case.

“One of the things that was repeatedly inferred, or assumed, is that there was no way to contact law enforcement (from Haught’s home),” he said. “The evidence in this case clearly showed there was an ability to contact law enforcement from that residence.”

He said after the offense, there was a call made from Haught’s residence to the defense witness, Russell McCabe. McCabe had testified that Haught had a cell phone which had service at his Dodd Run Road home.

“The other thing, certainly, looking at this case, it was pointed out the defendant could have stayed in the home and called law enforcement and when she did come out of the home, she was carrying a gun in her hand,” Burnworth added.

He said because she didn’t call law enforcement and came out of the home with a gun, “it says an awful lot about what this defense’s attitude was in this confrontation.”

He said she was getting the minimum of five years because no one was injured or killed when the shot was fired, as well as the fact that Ames had no prior record.

The Ruger handgun used was forfeited, but it will be preserved for her appeal.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

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