The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022

Man with long rap sheet gets prison term

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

James Irwin (right) stands with attorney Kenneth Rexford during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Despite his daughter’s and mother’s tearful pleas to keep their father and son out of prison, in the end, James Irwin’s nearly three-decade-long criminal record spoke louder to Van Wert County Common Pleas Judge Charles D. Steele.

The 44-year-old Irwin himself became emotional when his daughter tearfully pleaded that he be kept out of prison and his ill 63-year-old mother said her son was needed at home to care for her. However, Judge Steele, while not unsympathetic, took Irwin’s long criminal history stretching back to 1982 and comprising eight pages in summary alone more seriously in deciding the Delphos man was not amenable to community control. The judge sentenced Irwin to a year in prison on a charge of having a weapon while under a disability, a third-degree felony offense, but also gave the man credit for 111 days served while awaiting October 2010 for driving while under a license suspension, and Irwin told them he had a loaded .45-caliber handgun in his vehicle, which he said was there for protection.

Irwin is not allowed to have a weapon in his possession because of earlier felony convictions.

Also Wednesday, a former soldier was given a prison sentence in connection with sex-related charges while serving in the U.S. Army, but will be resentenced today because of a procedural mix-up.

Cody Markward, 21, of Van Wert, was sentenced to two consecutive 18-month prison sentences on fourth-degree felony charges of disseminating material harmful to juveniles. A 12-month sentence was handed down on a fifth-degree felony charge for the same offense, but that sentence will run concurrently with the first two sentences.

According to a Van Wert County Sheriff’s Department investigation, Markward was sending obscene material electronically to two young girls, one under the age of 13 and the other younger than 16, while serving in Iraq. The offenses occurred in the first half of 2010.

Judge Steele also found Markward to be a Tier 1 sexual offender, which he means he must register annually with the sheriff of the county in which he resides for a period of 25 years.

A hearing for accused murdered Shawn Jones was also held Wednesday afternoon, with Jones’ attorney, Scott Gordon, complaining that a DNA expert he hired has not been able to examine DNA evidence in the case because of delays in processing that evidence by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.

County Prosecutor Charles F. Kennedy III noted that BCI&I is working on the DNA evidence, but added that processing can take some time.

After Jones waived his right to a speedy trial, Judge Steele granted a continuance in the case until August so that Gordon’s investigators can complete their work on behalf of their client.

Jones is charged with murdering his 84-year-old grandmother, Edna LaRue.

A Van Wert man, Billy Ray Gibson II, 41, was given two years of community control during sentencing on a charge of domestic violence, a first-degree misdemeanor, with Judge Steele also requiring Gibson to undergo six months of electronically monitored house arrest. Gibson was originally charged with felony domestic violence because of an earlier conviction for that offense, but was able to plead to the lesser charge as part of negotiations with the prosecutor’s office.

Several people also changed their pleas to guilty to a variety of charges on Wednesday. They include:

  • Christine Miller, 19, of Van Wert, entered a guilty plea to a charge of receiving stolen property, a fifth-degree felony. A presentence investigation was ordered and sentencing scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 18.
  • Tasha Comment, 27, of Va Wert, pleaded guilty to a charge of trafficking in drugs, a fourth-degree felony. A presentence investigation was ordered and sentencing set for 9 a.m. May 18.
  • Alyssa C. Bebout, 22, of Van Wert, entered a guilty plea to a charge of trafficking in drugs, a fifth-degree felony offense, which includes a specification that she used a 1996 Chevrolet in the commission of the offense. She will also be subject to a presentence investigation, with sentencing to be held at 9 a.m. May 18.
  • Two people arrested for being in possession of a mobile methamphetamine lab both entered guilty pleas to related charges on Wednesday. Tyann Montalvo, 22, and Chad Bellis, 38, both of Portland, Ind., pleaded guilty to a charge of illegal assembly of material for the manufacturing of drugs, a third-degree felony offense. A count of illegal manufacturing of drugs, a second-degree felony offense, was dismissed in exchange for the couple’s guilty plea on the other charge. Montalvo and Bellis were arrested February 28 on U.S. 224 by a trooper from the Van Wert Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol after he noticed their semi tractor-trailer rig was parked partially on the highway. A presentence investigation was ordered for both and sentencing set for 9 a.m. May 18.
  • Bronson Pate, no age listed, of Van Wert, admitted to violating his community control sentence and was granted his request for a continuance in his case to a later date.
  • Jordan Black, 23, of Van Wert, pleaded guilty to three counts of trafficking in heroin. A presentence investigation will be conducted and sentencing was scheduled for 9 a.m. May 18.
  • Richard R. Foley, 80, of Convoy, entered a plea of guilty to a charge of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a third-degree felony offense. As part of his sentence, Foley will be classified as a Tier 2 sexual offender, which will require him to register with the sheriff of the county in which he resides every six months for life.
  • Foley was accused of having sex with a minor who was 13 years old at the time of the offense. A presentence investigation was ordered and sentencing set for 9 a.m. May 18.

An arraignment was also held Wednesday for Rachel A. Oden, 33, of Quincy, Mich. Oden entered a guilty plea to a charge of nonsupport of dependents and was placed in a diversion program that includes having to pay child support for 12 consecutive months. If she does so successfully, the charge against her will be dismissed.

POSTED: 03/31/11 at 4:16 am. FILED UNDER: News