Motion Says State Must Enforce Agreement In Prior Roberts Cases

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Having pleaded guilty in cases other than the one he faces accusing him of murdering his father, Paul J. Roberts wants the prosecution to honor their previous agreement.

Roberts, 40, of 69 Locust St. in Glouster, filed a motion Tuesday in Athens County Common Pleas Court to enforce his plea agreement or have the option to withdraw his guilty pleas all together.

Defense attorney James Wallace had argued the measure at Roberts’ arraignment Monday and was granted a leave to file a motion to that effect.

“The normal brevity … is for the state to either allow my client to withdraw his guilty plea or to honor the terms of the agreement,” Wallace told the court.

The plea agreement entered relates to cases of identity theft, drug possession, forgery and grand theft of a motor vehicle and had the prosecution recommending a sentence of five years of community control.

“Plea agreements are governed by the principles of contract law,” Wallace wrote in his motion. “When the state fails to live up to its end of a plea bargain, the defendant is entitled to the remedy of either specific performance of the plea agreement or withdrawal of the plea.”

But with the new charges against him, the prosecution said Roberts had no right to plea to those other charges.

Roberts is now charged in the death of his father, Paul E. Roberts, who was found dead inside a well under the porch of his home. Roberts is charged with aggravated murder, murder, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence, intimidation of an attorney, victim or witness in a criminal case, grand theft of a vehicle, theft, theft from an elderly person or disabled adult and vandalism. All the charges are felonies.

Roberts allegedly stole his father’s 2004 Jeep Liberty, a John Deere riding lawn mower, and a debit card that belonged to his father.

“The defendant violated an inherent principle by failing to be a law-abiding citizen,” Blackburn said on Friday.

Wallace argues that because Roberts has not been convicted of any additional offense, “nor was it a stated condition of the plea agreement that defendant not be indicted for any subsequent offense,” the state can’t rely on new charges as sole reason not to honor the agreement.

The prosecution has not responded to the motion.

Also accused in the case are Rhonda and Bob Degarmore, the wife and brother-in-law, respectively, of Paul J. Roberts. The Degarmores were implicated in the crime after Rhonda allegedly lied to police about her father-in-law’s location, according to Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn.

Rhonda Degarmore eventually led law enforcement to the body and Bob Degarmore was allegedly found using the debit card belonging to Paul E. Roberts. She is charged with theft, receiving stolen property and obstructing justice. Bob Degarmore is being accused of “complicity to being in possession of a credit card that did not belong to him,” according to the notice of violation of community control.

Both the Degarmores have been arraigned on their separate charges. Bond was set at $125,000 with 10 percent allowed for Rhonda

Degarmore. Bob Degarmore is incarcerated on a probation violation.

Roberts’ bond was set at $950,000 during the arraignment.