Jonathon Welker
Jonathon Welker

OTTAWA — A Delphos man was sentenced to five years community control and 180 days in jail for an assault which took place in January.

Jonathon Scott Welker, 45, was originally charged with attempted murder and second degree felonious assault. In a September plea deal with the State of Ohio, Welker pleaded no contest to aggravated assault, a felony of the fourth degree. In exchange for his plea, all other charges were dropped.

During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Welker’s defense attorney, William Kluge, described his client as wholly remorseful and the victim of an alcohol-fueled, misguided friendship.

“In this case, the facts are actually very important to the end result,” Kluge told the court. “Both the victim and my client, Scott, were good friends. They would, once every couple weeks or so, get together, go out drinking at different bars in the neighborhood and in Putnam County.”

Kluge then explained the victim would, on occasion, seek out illicit drugs, often leaving Welker at a bar, or take him home before procuring the drugs. On the night of the assault, Welker rode along, but stayed in the car as the victim made contact with his supplier. The supplier, however, aware of Welker’s presence, refused to sell the victim drugs.

“When the victim came back to the car, they were going down the road, an argument ensued, and all of a sudden the victim, who is much bigger than Scott, smacked Scott across the face,” Kluge said. “The victim continued to get angrier and angrier and angrier.”

According to Kluge, and to statements provided by Welker, the victim then pulled the car over and attacked Welker. As the confrontation escalated, Kluge said Welker brandished a knife in an attempt to dissuade any further attacks.

“Scott, in fear for his life at this point, pulled out his knife and held the knife out in front of him, at which point the victim jumped on him and fell to the ground,” Kluge continued. “We believe that as a result of the victim jumping on Scott when he had the knife out, caused the injury. As they were fighting on the ground, the knife apparently cut deeper and deeper into the victim. This is not something my client intended to do, and not something Scott even wanted to do. He was just trying to defend himself.”

With that scenario in mind — in concert with a relatively clean record, and a young family Kluge said Welker was anxious to support — Kluge appealed to the court for leniency, requesting only community control as a sentence, and foregoing incarceration.

Speaking on his own behalf, Welker told the court, “I’m very sorry for putting anybody that I love in this situation, and I surely never, ever, tried to harm anyone. I’m very remorseful for it, and I would plead for leniency in your decision.”

Common Pleas Court Judge Keith Schierloh was, in great part, unmoved by Kluge’s recitation.

“Well, Mr. Welker, let’s look at a couple things here,” Judge Schierloh responded. “Let’s look at the situation, what took place and what happened.”

Judge Schierloh worked his way through the scenario as presented by Kluge, hammering on Welker’s decision to join the victim in his attempt to acquire drugs, and his decision to wield a knife.

“How fearful could you really be if this is a friend that you chose to go along with, that you felt the need to brandish a knife,” Schierloh said. “Somebody got stabbed, blood all over, and had to be taken to the hospital. I don’t know. I can’t say too often I’ve seen friends act that way.”

Schierloh suggested Welker could have simply walked away and asserted the explanation as presented was a form of defense, not an appeal for mitigation.

“Let’s put that aside. Let’s look the other way,” Schierloh continued. “We should be done. You should go home. You should be able to go back to work and be able to just take care of things. But we don’t live in a society where people can walk around stabbing people and say, ‘Ah. It’s all good.’ So there’s got to be a punishment coming here.”

Judge Schierloh them imposed the sentence of five years community control and 180 days in the Putnam County Jail, with credit for 144 days already served. In addition, Welker is required to make resititution to the victim in the amount of $7,531.25.