SIDNEY — With his trial just two weeks away, Jackson Center Police Chief Joseph Cotterman and his attorney Jeremy Tomb, have filed a motion which could change the entire course of the case.
Their motion asks for the appointment of a special prosecutor, change of venue, an order restraining the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office from conducting any further investigation, the voluntary recusal of the judge, and a hearing on these matters.
Cotterman has been facing a charge of gross sexual imposition since February, and after several delays the trial was set to start Oct. 2. On Sept. 1, a Shelby County grad jury indicted Cotterman on a separate charge of rape.
The motion filed on Wednesday was filed in both cases. It cites Cotterman’s strong ties with law enforcement and judicial communities in Shelby County, and explains his past workings with the prosecutor and sheriff’s office.
“All these connections to Shelby County would seemingly make it improper for this court to try these cases, for the Shelby County Prosecutor to prosecute these cases, and for the people of Shelby County, in the form of a jury of the citizens of Shelby County, to decide these cases,” the motion said.
It continues, “The defendant had some initial concerns about these connections, but he only became certain that they will present problems for him getting a fair and fully impartial trial due to occurrences that have happened since he was originally arraigned (for the gross sexual imposition case).”
It claims since the filing of the original charge Cotterman has, “had to endure personal comments made about him by members of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office that demonstrate their personal animosity toward him and call into question their ongoing investigations of him.”
It also cites increased media attention that would “likely make it difficult to find an impartial jury in Shelby County.”
The motion requests if the sheriff’s office needs to conduct any more investigation, a special investigator be appointed.
It goes on to explain specific instances of conflicts of interest between the detective who handled the case and Cotterman, as well as alleged investigating the sheriff’s office conducted after Cotterman was indicted on the original charge, and other biases the prosecutor, sheriff’s office, and judge could have.
The motion cited the way the case against former sheriff Dean Kimple was handled in 2011, and asks for it to be used as a precedent for future cases against law enforcement officers in Shelby County. It further describes other cases in Ohio which these changes have been made.
While no hearing on this motion has been scheduled in either case, plans on how the cases will progress will soon come to fruition.
There is public access to all Shelby County Common Pleas Court records at http://search.shelbyco.net/eservices/home.page.2.
Reach this writer at 937-538-4825