A one-time champion bodybuilder pleaded guilty to five robbery charges yesterday, then bolted from a Franklin County courtroom after a judge revoked his bond.
Miguel E. Neil, 41, ran out of the Common Pleas courtroom and into a conference room. A courtroom deputy and a Columbus police detective there for the case cornered him.
“Please, please, please let me say bye to my son!” Neil pleaded while the authorities had him on the ground. They quickly took him to a holding cell.
Neil, of Crawford Drive on the North Side, wanted to turn himself in at 3 p.m. Wednesday so he could see his 5-year-old son first. Prosecutors agreed not to oppose that request. But Judge David W. Fais revoked Neil’s bond about noon, right after the plea, and that had the effect of sending him immediately to jail.
Assistant County Prosecutor Doug Stead was explaining Neil’s request to the judge when Neil took off.
Neil was first arrested in the case after running from Columbus police on Nov. 15. SWAT officers were watching him that day — he was a suspect in as many as 30 other robberies — when he robbed a Bureau of Motor Vehicles license center at 112 Dillmont Dr. on the Far North Side.
One officer struck him with a cruiser, and another officer shot at him but missed. Neil ran inside a children’s dance studio, where he was shocked with a Taser and captured.
Authorities charged Neil in that robbery and in a Nov. 8 robbery of a Wendy’s.
He pleaded guilty to the BMV robbery Wednesday and to four 2011 robberies for which he waived indictment. Prosecutors said those crimes often involved physical violence and the threat of a handgun.
On Oct. 10, 2011, for example, Neil robbed a Marathon gas station at 7200 Sawmill Rd.
“The victim ... was struck by the defendant,” Assistant County Prosecutor William Walton said. “ The defendant then pushed (her) to her knees, punching her in the neck with a gun.”
Defense attorney Dennis McNamara said he disagreed with some of the prosecutors’ descriptions in some of those crimes.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed not to pursue charges in the other robberies. Neil won the men’s bodybuilding title in the Arnold Amateur at the Arnold Classic in 2007. He finished eighth in his weight class at the National Bodybuilding Championships in Miami Beach in 2011. By that time, he had committed the four 2011 robberies he pleaded guilty to Wednesday.
He was working as a personal trainer when he was arrested.
Fais scheduled sentencing for April 24. Neil could be sent to prison for 40 years.
Stead said he did not know if Neil would face charges for leaving the courtroom Wednesday.
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