LOGAN – A judge has turned down for the second time a request by a former Benton Township trustee to be designated as financially indigent while he pursues an appeal of his conviction on burglary and other charges.
Gerald Stevens, 57, of South Bloomingville, had a jury trial in Hocking County Common Pleas Court in June, after having been indicted in 2019, six years after the alleged crime for which he was charged had taken place.
Stevens was accused of having masterminded the 2013 burglary of the home of his cousin Robbie Davis – a current Benton Township trustee – in which men who were allegedly accomplices of Stevens’, and acting under his direction, stole more than 40 guns.
A jury found Stevens guilty of one count each of burglary, complicity to burglary, and grand theft, but acquitting him of aggravated burglary and evidence tampering.
Stevens, who has begun serving a 6-1/2 year prison sentence, has insisted he is innocent of the burglary, and has indicated he will appeal his trial outcome to Ohio’s Fourth District of Appeals.
After he was sentenced, Stevens got a new attorney, who filed a motion asking that imposition of Stevens’ prison term be suspended while his appeal is in the works. Judge L. Alan Goldsberry, who was appointed to hear the case after Hocking County Common Pleas Judge John T. Wallace recused himself, denied the motion.
He also turned down a motion by Stevens to proceed with his appeal in forma pauperis, meaning he would not have to pay its costs. Stevens had claimed to have a monthly income of less than $800 from Social Security, and less than $300 in liquid assets.
Stevens has since renewed his indigency motion, according to court documents.
In an entry filed Oct. 8, Judge Goldsberry noted that during Stevens’s sentencing hearing Aug. 12, he, Goldsberry, had raised questions about Stevens’ claim to be financially indigent. Despite his doubts, however, the judge stated in the recent entry, he ordered that a transcript of Stevens’ trial should be completed for use in his appeal, and that the county clerk of courts should pay the court reporter for doing the transcription.
Since then, however, Goldsberry adds, the clerk has advised him that her office cannot pay for the transcript unless the court assigns the costs to either Stevens or the public.
Therefore, the judge concludes, he is denying Stevens’ renewed request to be found indigent, and ordering him to pay the cost of the transcript – estimated in earlier court documents at more than $5,000.
Meanwhile, a private investigator working on Stevens’ behalf has begun making inquiries related to the case. Court records show that on Sept. 28, Judge Goldsberry granted a request by the investigator to conduct an in-custody interview with Jacob Dexter, a 37-year-old New Plymouth man who is serving a prison term in the Ohio prison system after being convicted in Hocking County on drug, firearm and stolen property charges.
The court has also subpoenaed the records keeper of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office to testify on behalf of the state in connection with Stevens’ case.