Friday, August 8th, 2014
Rhoades ready to enter plea in Grube murders
Judge expected to hand down sentence next week
By Margie Wuebker
CELINA - Bryant Rhoades - one of two men implicated in the November 2011 murders of Fort Recovery-area residents Robert and Colleen Grube - now plans not to contest the charges against him and face sentencing Tuesday in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.
The 23-year-old Union City man in letters this week to county prosecutor Matt Fox indicated he wants to continue with a previous intent to plead guilty to an Alford plea. The hearing is set for 1 p.m.
During a hearing July 15, Rhoades backed out of a negotiated Alford plea that would have spared him the possibility of the death penalty. Court paperwork filed before the proceeding indicated he would enter the plea, which would allow him to maintain his innocence while admitting the state had sufficient evidence to convict him on two counts each of aggravated murder with firearm specifications, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.
The negotiated agreement would have dismissed the death-penalty specification and all remaining charges in the 27-count indictment, and carried a likely penalty of life in prison without parole.
A three-judge panel of local judge Jeffrey Ingraham and visiting judges Jeffrey L. Reed of Allen County and Randall L. Basinger of Putnam County were seated to handle the proceeding after Rhoades waived his right to a jury trial.
However, Rhoades changed his mind after Fox read a stipulation of facts detailing events that had taken place at the Grubes' Burrville Road home on the night of Nov. 29-30, 2011. Rhoades expressed concern about the description of the garage where, according to Fox, Rhoades took tools and a chainsaw.
Following a recess to allow the defendant time with defense attorneys William Kluge and Robert Grzybowski, Ingraham announced that Rhoades no longer wished to pursue the Alford plea and instead wanted a jury trial.
Co-defendant Trevin Sanders-Roark, 19, also of Union City, pleaded guilty Feb. 27 to two counts each of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary. Two sentencing dates have been delayed during pendency of Rhoades' case. His next scheduled appearance is an Aug. 19 attorney conference.
Sanders-Roark, who was 17 at the time of the murders, signed a statement of facts identifying him as Colleen Grube's killer and Rhoades as the person responsible for Robert Grube's death.
Sanders-Roark does not face the death penalty because he was a minor at the time of the murders.