SIDNEY – Peter A.D. Stokes, the man who caused injuries during a fight that led to the death of a fellow inmate at the Shelby County Jail in January, was sentenced to an additional six years in prison Wednesday, just four days prior to his release in an unrelated case.
Stokes, 27, of Sidney, was handed the incarceration orders on an amended charge of involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony, in Shelby County Common Pleas Court. Stokes was set to be released from the London Correctional Institution on Sunday, Oct. 6.
Stokes was one of two men involved in the fight on Jan. 18. The other combatant, James Richards, 54, of Sidney, died at Miami Valley Hospital at 3:50 p.m. the following day. The cause of death was a brain bleed believed to be caused by the assault, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.
Judge James Stevenson had received a joint recommendation of a six-year sentence from state prosecutors and defense attorney Daniel J. O’Brien of Dayton. The request was first presented to the court on Aug. 16 during a plea negotiation hearing.
That day, Stokes pleaded no contest to the charge and faced up to 11 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Previously, Shelby Country Sheriff’s Chief Deputy James R. Frye told the SDN, Richards was beaten by Stokes when a verbal argument escalated to a fight. Richards had been on the phone in the day room of his pod, Frye said in describing the sequence of events.
Richards was supposedly talking in a very loud voice on the phone. Stokes, also in the day room, went over to Richards several times to ask him to quiet down. When the phone call ended, Richards used an intercom to ask to be let into the vestibule. The correction officers unlocked the door remotely, but instead of going into the vestibule, Richards went to Stokes and began yelling at him.
Stokes reportedly went at Richards, and the weight of the two of them pushed open the vestibule door, sending them both into the vestibule. Stokes struck Richards, and Richards fell to the ground, hitting his head. He got into a sitting position on the floor, and Stokes “punched him three or four times,” Frye said.
By then, six corrections officers had converged on the fight and got the men separated and within seconds, four sheriff’s deputies were there, too. The whole incident took just 32 seconds, according to the sheriff’s office video.
Stokes, a registered sex offender, had been imprisoned since November 2018 on a charge of attempted failure to provide a change of address, a fourth-degree felony.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.