HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - A Butler County business owner accused of violently attacking his wife was indicted this week on three felonies and a misdemeanor, Prosecutor Mike Gmoser announced Tuesday.
Jeffrey Couch, owner of Jeff Couch’s RV Nation in Trenton, faces two counts of felonious assault and one count each of attempted felonious assault and domestic violence, Gmoser said.
Couch, 51, remains free on $16,000 bond and is under court order to stay away from his wife and not attempt to contact her in any way.
“Because of early unsubstantiated reports of possible undue influence, this matter proceeded immediately to grand jury consideration to avoid any implications of such untoward conduct," the prosecutor said in a statement.
“The number of charges involves one incident and recognizes that a judge or jury will have a complete opportunity to consider all implications from the evidence anticipated to be presented at trial.”
Prosecuting the case as a felony allows the prosecutor to do it with or without the victim’s cooperation, although Gmoser would not comment on that.
“If I have a piece of asphalt and I take it in my hand and hit you in the back of your head, causing an injury, that could be considered to be a deadly weapon,” he said. “Now, if you slam somebody’s head onto an asphalt surface, the asphalt becomes the deadly weapon even though you can’t pick up the entire driveway.”
The prosecutor declined to discuss the victim’s medical condition and injuries, saying it would be inappropriate now: “It will all come out at the trial.”
West Chester police responded to the Couch’s home in the gated Wetherington subdivision off Tylersville Road west of Interstate 75 late the night of March 1, police records show.
Couch’s wife told officers he punched her in the face multiple times and “slammed her head "onto a paved driveway multiple times causing serious physical harm,” according to a copy of a criminal complaint.
She went to a neighbor’s house for help and was taken to a hospital, treated and released, police records show.
Couch was arrested and booked into the Butler County jail early March 2 on one count each of felonious assault and domestic violence.
Couch’s lawyer, Erik Niehaus, said in court March 4 when Couch made his first appearance in the case that Couch’s wife told him she wasn’t afraid of her husband and she indicated to Niehaus she had no fractures.
Niehaus, who is West Chester’s former police chief, also said he didn’t think there was serious physical harm and was not sure felonious assault had occurred.
Couch was held without bond the entire weekend of his arrest.
While he was locked up, West Chester Police Chief Joel Herzog asked an employee of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office to visit Couch “as a friend” at the jail, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones told FOX19 NOW.
The veteran law enforcement official said the request surprised him. He picked up the phone and alerted Gmoser.
Jones declined to identify the employee, but Herzog’s cell phone log released to FOX19 NOW via a public records request shows the device had three calls with Chief Deputy Tony Dwyer that weekend, one on March 2 and two the following day.
“This has never happened before," said the sheriff, who took the office in January 2005 and served 12 years prior as the second-in-command Chief Deputy under former Sheriff Don Gabbard.
“I felt it was not proper to allow him to visit as his friend in my jail and also be the police chief of the agency that made the arrest,” Jones told FOX19 NOW in a March 6 interview. "I refused. I thought it would be a conflict of interest.”
We reached out to the police chief through a township spokeswoman last week. We requested an interview with the chief and several public records, including copies of emails, text messages and his cell phone call log.
The township spokeswoman, Barb Wilson, told FOX19 NOW March 6 the chief would not be commenting on any of his personal relationships.
She said the police department responds to nearly 200 domestic violence calls and about 30 felonious assault calls annually.
“This incident has been handled in the same manner as all the others - with integrity and professionalism,” Wilson said in a statement. "The investigation of this incident is closed by arrest and the case is now in the hands of the prosecutor.”
Gmoser said Tuesday the police department conducted a “complete and professional investigation.”