Local man who pistol-whipped captive gets sent to slammer

Cary Ashby • Aug 23, 2013 at 11:36 PM

A Willard man who pistol-whipped one of two victims he held captive was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison Tuesday.

Ryan Branham, 26, formerly of 313B Woodland Ave., pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of abduction, a third-degree felony, with a firearm specification . The defendant also agreed to forfeit the .45 caliber handgun and $550 seized by the Willard Police Department during its investigation of the April 4 incident.

   “We think it was a drug deal gone bad,” Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said after the hearing.

   Officers arrested Branham when he was hiding in a South Main Street attic.

   “Willard police pulled him out of an attic area,” Leffler said. “It was good police work. Willard police did a good job.”

   The incident started when two men came to Branham’s house April 4.

   “He (Branham) ended up pulling a gun and holding them for 10 to 12 hours. One of the guys tried to leave and he pistolwhipped him,” Chief Mark Holden said soon afterward.

   The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation processed the crime scene and recovered blood, .45-caliber ACP ammunition and a pistol holster.

   The victims were treated at Mercy Willard Hospital. One man was transferred to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo with a fractured eye socket.

   “He wasn’t hurt particularly badly — treated and released,” Leffler said Tuesday. “It scared the hell out of him.”

   Leffler said the state doesn’t “like helping people who deal drugs,” but he said assaulting someone with a gun is a dangerous situation.

   In exchange for Branham’s guilty plea Tuesday, prosecutors agreed to dismiss one count each of abduction and felonious assault. If the defendant had been convicted of all three charges, he could have faced up to 29 years in prison.

   Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway followed the joint recommendation between Leffler and defense attorney James Joel Sitterly. The judge imposed 18 months in prison on the abduction conviction and a mandatory three years for the firearm specification.

   Branham has a prior felony conviction through Richland County.

   “It was a drug case. … He may have to deal with some time out of there,” Leffler said, referring to Branham being on probation.

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