LOGAN – A 64-year old Haydenville area woman, who had been charged with aggravated murder and other felony counts in connection with the shooting death of her husband, pled guilty to a reduced charge Tuesday in Hocking County Common Pleas Court.
Gayle L. Piatt had been facing one count of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, and one count of felonious assault, each with a firearm specification; and one count of gross abuse of a corpse, in connection with the death of her husband, 77-year-old Homer Piatt. As part of a plea agreement, the county prosecutor’s office agreed to drop the last five counts and amend the aggravated murder charge to one of voluntary manslaughter, to which Piatt pled guilty.
The section of Ohio law relating to the offense to which Piatt pled guilty defines voluntary manslaughter as knowingly killing someone while “under the influence of sudden passion or in a sudden fit of rage, either of which is brought on by serious provocation occasioned by the victim that is reasonably sufficient to incite the person into using deadly force.” A first-degree felony, it carries a maximum prison sentence of 16-1/2 years.
Piatt was indicted last October. She reportedly has admitted that she fatally shot her husband, but has told authorities that Homer Piatt, who was suffering from major health problems, had asked her to end his life.
In mid-March Common Pleas Judge John T. Wallace had rejected Piatt’s plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, after a psychologist who had evaluated Piatt found that her mental state at the time of her husband’s death, while disturbed, did not meet the legal standard for insanity.
The psychologist’s report stated that at the time of her husband’s slaying Piatt had a “severe mental disease,” namely major depression without psychosis, but that despite this condition, “she was able to know the wrongfulness of the acts charged.”
At Tuesday’s hearing Piatt, who attended in handcuffs, dressed in jail orange and seated in a wheelchair, appeared to struggle at times with her emotions, her voice breaking at one point as she affirmed that she was admitting to killing her husband.
Wallace has ordered a pre-sentence investigation.
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