A rural Bellevue man is serving a 17-year prison term for hitting his wife, threatening to burn down their house with her in it and firing a gun at a sheriff's deputy.
Lloyd V. Hicks, 73, is doing 10 years plus another seven years for a firearm specification at the Lorain Correctional Institution. A Seneca County Common Pleas Court jury convicted him June 10 of two counts of felonious assault and one charge each of abduction and aggravated arson.
(NOTE: To see pictures of the fire and investigation, click HERE.)
"The Seneca County Sheriff's Office, Bellevue police and fire departments are all to be commended for their good work in resolving the situation in a matter that protected all those involved and the property of the neighbors," Seneca County Prosecutor Derek DeVine said in a prepared statement.
Assistant Prosecutor Brian Boos represented the state during the trial while Tiffin attorney Jonathan Stotzer defended Hicks.
"I am grateful that nobody was injured in this very serious situation. This could have been a much more serious crime if things had happened only a little differently," said Boos, a Bellevue native, also in a prepared statement.
Hicks' convictions were for a Sept. 5 incident at his North County Road 29 residence in Seneca County.
His 55-year-old wife came home that morning and got into an argument with Hicks, who then assaulted her, Sheriff Bill Eckelberry earlier told the Reflector. Eckelberry said the defendant tried to keep his wife in the house while he set it ablaze by pouring gasoline on rags and setting them on fire.
Bellevue firefighters used about 11,000 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze. A dozen firefighters were on scene for about three hours. The fire caused about $195,000 in damage, which included the home, its contents and a car that was outside.
The wife, who defended herself by kicking Hicks, was able to get away. Eckelberry said the victim drove to her work uninjured from the fire, but she was hurt from being beaten and reported what had happened.
Shortly after the first deputy arrived, two other deputies and the sheriff responded after learning about shots being fired. Eckelberry said Hicks had the gun in his lap and put the weapon under his chin numerous times.
Deputies kept firefighters on standby until they could secure the scene. A deputy found Hicks in his back yard with a .45 caliber handgun.
Sgt. Scott Beier tried to talk Hicks into putting down his gun and spoke to him over a public-address system. Negotiations lasted 30 to 45 minutes.
"We wanted him to put (the gun) down and walk over to a shelter 30 to 40 feet away," Eckelberry said.
Eckelberry eventually instructed his deputies to lower their weapons and Hicks to put his gun on a storage box in the shelter which he had entered. The sheriff approached the defendant and talked to him about what happened.
"When I approached him, I had no problems with him whatsoever," Eckelberry said.
A neighbor of the Hicks, who declined to be identified, had told the Reflector in a way, he wasn't surprised the incident happened.
"He was sort of like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," said the man, who also recalled "a couple of" domestic situations involving Hicks.
In addition to the sheriff's office and Bellevue police, the Huron County Sheriff's Office, state troopers and the Green Springs Police Department responded to the scene. The state fire marshal's office also was there.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Staff writer Aaron Krause contributed to this story.