Castle pleads guilty to weapons charge

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune

A former Ironton businessman has pleaded guilty in connection with an incident last year during which he slashed his wrists at the Lawrence County Courthouse.

Garry Castle, 51, pleaded guilty Monday to a charge of illegal possession of a deadly weapon in a courthouse, a fifth-degree felony. Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton sentenced Castle to six months in prison, which will run concurrently with an 18-month prison sentence he is serving after pleading guilty last year to arson.

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Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. said he was satisfied with the guilty plea because it closes the book on a lengthy case that has had more than its share of twists.

"This whole thing has been sort of wild," Collier said. "This (guilty plea and sentencing) is essentially a conclusion."

Castle's restaurant, The Shake Shoppe, was gutted by a fire in March 2002. Initially he maintained that the fire was an act of vandalism. Three months later, he admitted he set the fire.

He was originally charged with aggravated arson and a trial on that charge

in February 2003 ended in a hung jury. Three months later, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of arson.

When he was sentenced in July 2003 by visiting judge Fred Crow, Castle slashed his wrists with a razor blade he had purportedly smuggled into the courthouse under the battery of his cell phone.

Last month, the Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals ordered that Crow resentence Castle because, although a witness spoke on his behalf, Castle did not get the express opportunity to speak before the sentence was carried down.