WAVERLY, Ohio – A former deputy sheriff who was acquitted in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man after a car chase pleaded guilty on Monday to reckless homicide in the fatal shooting of a neighbor he said had asked him for a lesson on how to disarm someone.
Former Pike County Deputy Joel Jenkins pleaded guilty to a felony charge of reckless homicide in the December 2015 death of Jason Brady. Prosecutors dismissed other charges including involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence in the plea deal and agreed to lower a mandatory prison sentence for a gun specification from three years to one.
Jenkins pleaded guilty on the day his trial was to start in Pike County Common Pleas Court.
Prosecutors said Jenkins had been drinking before trying to teach Brady how to disarm someone on Dec. 3, 2015, and hadn't ensured the gun being used was unloaded. They said the gun went off twice and struck Brady, 40, in the head, killing him. Jenkins was fired from the Pike County sheriff's office after the shooting.
Jenkins' attorney, Mark Collins, said after the hearing that Jenkins and Brady were longtime friends. He said Jenkins had two beers that day and later had four shots of liquor. He said that when Jenkins' blood alcohol content was tested seven hours later it showed he wasn't impaired.
Collins said Brady had asked Jenkins to demonstrate how to disarm someone. He said Jenkins checked to ensure the chamber of the handgun was clear but didn't recheck it when Brady later requested another demonstration after Jenkins had walked away and returned.
"It was a stupid, tragic mistake to use a real gun," Collins said, adding that Jenkins wanted to take responsibility for his actions.
Jenkins, 33, could be sentenced to up to three years on the reckless-homicide charge. A sentencing date hasn't been set.
Jenkins was under investigation in an on-duty fatal shooting at the time of Brady's death.
A jury in January found Jenkins not guilty on charges of murder and reckless homicide in the March 2015 fatal shooting of Robert Rooker after a police chase.
Prosecutors argued that Jenkins unnecessarily fired nine times through the windows of Rooker's stopped vehicle, hitting him seven times.
Jenkins testified he was forced to fire because he thought Rooker, 26, was leaning down to grab a weapon.