Ex-radio DJ pleads guilty to stalking charges

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2005

A local radio personality opted Thursday to forego a trial and instead pleaded guilty to the burglary and stalking charges against him.

James Steven Reinhardt, 50, of 149 Township Road 121, Proctorville, known on the air as "Rhino" sat quietly beside his attorney, Marty Stillpass and answered "guilty" when Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton asked Reinhardt how he pleaded to a charge of second-degree breaking and entering and three counts of fourth-degree felony menacing by stalking.

Reinhardt could get a sentence of between two and eight years on the burglary charge and a sentence of between six and 18 months for each stalking charge, in addition to fines that could total $30,000.

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Stillpass has asked for a pre-sentence investigation before Walton makes his decision on Reinhardt's fate. That investigation may take four to six weeks.

Although Reinhardt declined comment, Stillpass said after the Thursday hearing that his client opted to plead guilty for a couple of reasons.

"With regard to the burglary charge, technical elements of the offense were there. But it was not a typical burglary in a sense of breaking and entering into a dwelling for the purpose of a robbing the inhabitants or committing some violent criminal offense," Stillpass said. "One of the elements of the stalking offense was that the complaining witness was in fear for her physical safety, which I do not believe was the case.

But at this point we have had no witness come forward to tell us that she didn't take the acts seriously as she indicated to the prosecutor's office."

Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Bob Anderson said he was pleased Reinhardt pleaded guilty.

"We like it when people acknowledge their guilt. That's an important part in the process, it's important to the victim that they (the defendant) acknowledge their guilt," Anderson said.

Pamela Murphy, the mother of Reinhardt's victim, 23-year-old Ashley Murphy, of Rome Township, said she and her family are pleased Reinhardt pleaded guilty.

"It's been a rollercoaster of emotions," Pamela Murphy said.

Murphy and her husband, Don Murphy, praised the way local the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office and Lawrence County Prosecutor's Office handled the case.

"I'm grateful to the deputies and the investigators. They all took this seriously. They deserve more credit than they sometimes get for what they do," Don Murphy said.

Reinhardt was arrested in the early morning hours of Sept. 9, 2004, outside the Murphy residence after Reinhardt left pornographic materials in the victim's car.

At the time of his arrest, authorities said the incidents of stalking and harassment had been going on for several months and included one instance where Reinhardt broke into the residence.