Man in standoff is unclear about details

Published 9:50 am Thursday, September 25, 2008

A man who pleaded guilty in connection with a hostage standoff last year had a little trouble remembering exactly what he agreed to when he got probation for his crimes; a Lawrence County Common Pleas judge spoke loudly and clearly to iron out those fuzzy details.

Ronnie Rowe, 55, whose last known address was 96 Private Drive 2562, Ironton, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of felonious assault, and one count each of improperly discharging a firearm into or at a habitation, disrupting public service and resisting arrest stemming from an incident at his home last year.

At that time, with Columbus attorney Sterling Gill by his side, Rowe was sentenced to five years community controlled sanctions and one year of electronically monitored home confinement.

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During a hearing Wednesday, Rowe’s new attorney, Kathryn Williams, of Cleveland, told Judge D. Scott Bowling the judgment entry for Rowe’s guilty plea seemed “unclear” about whether Rowe had agreed to drop a federal lawsuit against the county and a habeas corpus (a demand that he be released from jail) as part of that guilty plea. Rowe has not dismissed either action since his guilty plea. The habeas is a moot point now since he is no longer in jail.

“I wasn’t privy to that earlier conversation,” Williams said. “My understanding is, Mr. Rowe didn’t understand these were included in the plea agreement.”

Bowling told Williams and Rowe that indeed, the record is clear that

Rowe had agreed to dismiss the two actions as part of his agreement. Gill, who attended the hearing and sat at the defense table with Williams and Rowe, agreed with the judge.

“Let me tell you in no uncertain terms how you and your attorney to your left (Gill) are looking at things,” Bowling said. “In March you agreed. If you don’t want to do these things you could very well find yourself in contempt of court as it relates to this case.”

Bowling said if Rowe wanted to withdraw that plea agreement he could do so in writing. He denied Rowe’s request that the state pay his legal fees. Rowe is said to be living now in the Cleveland area with a brother.