Man denies being 'aggressor' in assault, pleads guilty

Cary Ashby • Feb 14, 2013 at 9:22 AM

A man who assaulted a father during a visitation dispute pleaded guilty Monday to two lesser charges.

In mid-December 2011, a Huron County grand jury secretly indicted Timothy R. Waters, 24, of Amherst, on one count each of aggravated burglary and felonious assault. At Monday's hearing in Huron County Common Pleas Court, he pleaded guilty to one amended charge each of aggravated trespassing and assault, both first-degree misdemeanors.

But the conviction didn't go smoothly.

Judge Jim Conway had to take a brief recess to have defense attorney Jack Bradley discuss the case with Waters, who disagreed with Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler's statement of the facts. A few minutes later, all the parties came back on the record and Waters pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors.

The New London Police Department investigated the Oct. 30, 2011 incident. The assault sent the male victim -- the father of the child in the visitation dispute -- to Fisher-Titus Medical Center. Authorities said Waters attempted to retrieve the child from the father.

"The defendant punched out the victim ... causing blindness in one eye on a permanent basis," Leffler said.

Waters and his girlfriend went to a New London home and went in the front door where an argument and altercation over visitation ensued, Leffler said. The prosecutor also said Waters entered the premises without permission with the intent to "cause harm or threatened to cause harm."

Waters, when asked by the judge if he agreed with what Leffler said, denied throwing the first punch.

"We were invited (inside) ... I wasn't the aggressor," Waters said.

"If that's the attitude, we'll be ready for trial next week," Leffler responded.

Bradley, before the recess and he spoke with his client again, said the woman with Waters should have known to call police instead of handling the situation herself. The defense attorney said he told Waters that just because someone opens a door doesn't mean it's an invitation to enter.

Waters' attorney also said he didn't know the victim was permanently blind, but he had heard the man sustained "a fractured orbital bone."

Officer Brian Rozek responded to the victim's New London apartment. In his report, the officer said he saw the victim holding the back of his head and had abrasions to his face. His right eye was partially shut.

The victim accused Waters of forcing his way inside and assaulting him with his fists. He also told police he partially lost consciousness when Waters hit him in the back of the head, Rozek said in his report.

Because the victim "continued to lose partial consciousness at multiple times during the interview," police had an ambulance dispatched to the scene. The victim was transported to Fisher-Titus.

"I talked to the mother of the victim," Leffler said in court Monday. "The mother is not in agreement with this (plea deal)."

However, the prosecutor said the state believes this is an appropriate resolution of the case. Leffler said he went to an Ashland nursing home to speak to the victim, but he had been transferred to a facility that specializes in brain trauma.

Waters earlier posted 10 percent of a $20,000 bond. He is prohibited from being on the victim's premises while his case is pending.

The defendant will be sentenced March 27.

"He could face up to one year (in jail) because of the seriousness of the charges," Leffler said.

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