OTTAWA — A man who forced a woman to drive him out of Columbus Grove before taking her vehicle pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and kidnapping charges Thursday.
James M. Phillips, 39, of Toledo, appeared in court with his attorney Chris Woodworth, of Strongsville, before Putnam County Common Pleas Judge Keith Schierloh. Phillips’ family and the victim and her family also were present.
Since he agreed to plead guilty, prosecutors dropped a second charge of grand theft, the least serious charge. A sentencing for Phillips was set for 1 p.m. March 9.
A Putnam County grand jury met Nov. 13 and handed down an indictment on three counts for Phillips. Charges were aggravated robbery, a felony of the first degree, grand theft, a felony of the fourth degree, and displaying a firearm that was used to facilitate the offense.
Count one of aggravated robbery could mean up to 20 1/2 years in prison, and count three holds a possible eight-year prison sentence. The plea deal included the state suggesting the plea deal be a minimum of 11 years to a maximum of 15 years. There would be a mandatory prison sentence of three years, since he used a deadly weapon during the aggravated robbery.
The incident on Nov. 2 started at the Dollar General store in Columbus Grove. During Thursday’s hearing, Schierloh asked Phillips to explain what happened.
Phillips said that night he was at the Columbus Grove Dollar General when he asked people for a ride. When he asked the victim, she said no.
“I pulled a firearm and made her give me a ride, and then I told her to pull over and give me her money, and I took her car and drove off,” Phillips said.
He said he was in the passenger’s seat, and she was in the driver’s seat. She asked to be let out, so he let her out and drove off in her vehicle.
Addie Kiene reported on Facebook in November that she went to Dollar General in Columbus Grove to return a Redbox DVD and grab some things in the store. While returning the movie, she noticed a man standing along the building. She wrote she walked past him to get into the store.
She said he was in all black, so she assumed he was a worker on break. After being in the store for five minutes, she went back to her car. Before she could get into the car, she said, the man approached her. He asked for a ride and after saying no, he pulled a gun on her and told her she had no choice now.
“I tried to just give him my car and money, but he demanded that I drive him,” she wrote on Facebook. “At this point he had taken my phone so that I couldn’t call the cops, so with the gun pointed at me we got in the car and started to drive north on 65.”
Somewhere between Columbus Grove and Ottawa, he threw her phone out the window.
“I tried to stay as calm as possible and just started talking to him. He told me where he was from and where he was headed,” she wrote.
She wrote he told her he was a Christian and reassured her that she would go home if she listened and drove him where he needed to go.
She mentioned that she lived at home, and her dad would be worried because he knew she was going to the store. He then put the gun to her head and told her to pull over, get out and not to do anything stupid. She wrote that she pulled over on a side road on Road 9-K and got out of the car.
He handed Kiene her purse and told her to give him all the money she had with her. He took the money and told her to stand in the middle of the road until he drove away. Kiene flagged down a passerby on state Route 65 for help.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.