A man has admitted to stabbing two hunters in a Berlin Heights field last November.
Tyrone Cash, 23, appeared late Friday afternoon in Erie County Common Pleas Court, where he pleaded guilty to two counts of felonious assault.
This time Cash appeared without his normal throng of family supporters in the courtroom. With a newly shaved head and wearing a green jail jumpsuit, Cash admitted he attacked Mitchell Bellamy, 29, and Chad Rothgeb, 23.
Two counts each of attempted murder and tampering with evidence and one theft charge were dismissed as part of a plea deal, court records state.
Sheriff's deputies said Bellamy and Rothgeb were hunting in a remote field near Ohio 2 and 61 when Cash attacked them. Cash stabbed the two hunters repeatedly with a knife. Deputies never found the weapon.
"This obviously was a situation where I don't think we questioned the fact that there was serious physical injury caused to these men," said Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter.
Cash's attorney, public defender Jeff Whitacre, said his client admits remorse for his actions, but claims self-defense.
"For a black man seeing two white guys approach you with a gun, that might be scary," he said. "For someone that has a paranoia, that was terrifying for him."
Cash, who suffers from mental illness, was unmedicated at the time, Whitacre said.
Questions previously arose concerning Cash's competency to stand trial. After the proper care and medication, mental health professionals deemed him competent, court records state.
"Maybe a good settlement is when neither party is totally happy with the outcome," Whitacre said. "This has been just an incredibly tough case. (Cash has) got a lot of sadness in his heart because of it."
Rothgeb was in agreement with the plea deal, but Bellamy "has reservations," Baxter told the judge.
Bellamy was present at the hearing along with his mother, Teressa Bellamy. Rothgeb was not present, but Baxter said both victims are reserving their right to speak at Cash's sentencing hearing.
Cash faces up to 16 years in prison.
"The victims intend on asking for the maximum sentence in this case," Baxter told the judge.
After the hearing, Teressa Bellamy said she is upset at how the charges were knocked down and the trial vacated.
"I think we should have had our day in trial," she said. "I think justice wasn't served. Justice isn't served by saving the prosecutor time."
Cash, who remains on $500,000 bond at the Erie County jail is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 11.
"We can only pray that the judge will carry it to the full sentence now," Teressa Bellamy said.