Man Admits To Killing Father, Sentenced To Life In Prison

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A Glouster man has admitted to killing his own father and consequently has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole until at least 20 years have been served.

Paul J. Roberts, 41, appeared in Athens County Common Pleas Court Wednesday and changed his innocent plea to that of guilty on the charges of aggravated murder, murder, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

He also pleaded guilty to prohibited acts involving certificates of title, grand theft of a motor vehicle, theft, theft from the elderly and vandalism.

The charges all relate to the death of his father, Paul E. Roberts.

The indictment carried with it the possibility of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Entering in the plea agreement gives Roberts the chance to be released after 20 years but Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn told The Messenger the prosecutor’s office will oppose any motion for early release filed by Roberts.

“I’m happy with the resolution of this case,” Blackburn said. “This was an absolutely horrific act … to kill your own father. It’s a close to a sad situation.”

The prosecutor said the change of plea came as somewhat of a surprise as the defense had been steadfast in not pleading guilty to the aggravated murder charge before Wednesday.

However, Blackburn speculates that the possibility of parole rather than a mandatory life in prison sentence may have persuaded Roberts to take the deal.

Paul E. Roberts was found in a well under the porch of his home at 68 Locust St. in Glouster in October. In addition to killing his father, Paul J. Roberts also stole a 2004 Jeep Liberty, a riding lawnmower and a credit card belonging to his father.

The investigation into the murder also led to the arrest of Paul J. Roberts’ wife Rhonda Degarmore and her brother Robert. Robert Degarmore pleaded guilty to two counts of receiving stolen property and was sentenced to six months in jail.

Rhonda Degarmore pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property, theft and obstruction of justice.

She was sentenced to five years in prison.

The case was investigated by multiple agencies including the prosecutor’s office, Athens Police Department, Glouster Police Department, Ohio University Police Department, Athens Fire Department and the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.