NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 27, 2022) – An Oxford Township man has admitted in court to igniting a shed and pouring gasoline on a woman during a fiery domestic incident last fall.
41-year-old Ralph Henry Hutzel Jr this morning pleaded guilty to counts of aggravated arson, attempted aggravated arson, and felony domestic violence for the Sept. 21st incident on Dunlap Creek Road Southwest. Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Ernest proceeded to convict Hutzel of the charges after advising him of the potential penalties and rights he was relinquishing.
“Ralph, I’m going to accept your pleas of guilty, find you guilty of three counts of aggravated arson, all felonies a first degree; attempted aggravated arson, a felony of the third degree; and domestic violence, a felony of the third degree.”
Hutzel had previously pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, which he would have been required to prove at his jury trial a week from Wednesday. He had undergone two psychological evaluations, including one requested by his public defender, and both deemed him mentally sound at the time of the incident. The plea change was part of a deal between Hutzel and prosecutors, who will be recommending a four-year prison term when he’s punished for the crimes on July 15th.