SIDNEY — Brandon L. Steele, 35, of Sidney, the man accused of firing a weapon at two Sidney police officers, Sgt. Tim Kennedy and patrol Officer Brandon M. Heindl, on Oct. 6. 2021, entered a guilty plea in Shelby County Common Pleas Court on Jan. 24, 2022.
Steele pleaded guilty to attempted murder and felonious assault with a gun specification, two first-degree felonies. Steele also waived his motion to suppress evidence, which his attorney had filed on his behalf on Jan. 24, 2022.
In exchange, the prosecutor agreed to a “nolle prosequi” on two counts: felonious assault with a gun specification, a first-degree felony, and having weapons while under disability.
According to the legal website nolo.com, “nolle prosequi” is the legal option to act as if the charges had never been filed and is often used in cases where the prosecutor feels there is insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction, but leaves the door open to pursue the same charges again in the future, whereas an acquittal would not be able to pursue the charges again, as it would then be classified as “double jeopardy” in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. With the motion to suppress evidence lifted, Sell may use that evidence in a future prosecution of the two other charges, if applicable.
Steele qualified for legal representation by Shelby County Public Defender Jonathan M. Richard, but Richard filed a conflict-of-interest statement. According to court records, the request read, “the office of the Shelby County Public Defender has a conflict in representing the defendant. As grounds for this request, counsel states that he has a personal relationship with the victim and the victim’s family, and therefore, it is requested that this court appoint an attorney from outside of this office to represent the defendant in this case.” Steele obtained representation from Gregory Meyers from the Ohio Public Defender’s Office in Columbus.
Meyers filed a “demand for discovery,” on Nov. 4, 2021. It included requests for all statements made to the prosecuting attorney and law enforcement officers.
Based on that information, on Dec. 7, 2021, Meyers filed a motion to “suppress statements made to law enforcement while he was in custody.” Meyers argued in the motion that interrogators violated Steele’s Miranda rights, citing the relevant case law precedents.
The motion further described in detail how, during his first interrogation, Steele was read his rights but his voluntary consent to waive those rights was not secured, and that the officer instead “pressed on with the interrogation without first clarifying whether defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his constitutional rights to remain silent and/or to have a lawyer present during the interrogation,” and that it became “obvious” during the interrogation, Steele wanted counsel.
Then, during the second interrogation, Steele anticipated his attorney would be present, but he was not; still, “notwithstanding the absence of the defender’s lawyer, the two LEOs engaged defendant by staying in the interrogation room, thus provoking defendant to talk and take advantage of defendant’s uncounseled custodial constraints. They thereby violated both his constitutional rights to remain silent and to have counsel as he had clearly requested.”
The motion concluded with a request that the court “suppress all comments defendant made during his encounter with law enforcement officials a couple of days after he was arrested and while he was in jail.”
Judge James F. Stevenson granted the request for a hearing on the motion to suppress, scheduling it for Jan. 24, 2022. In preparation for the hearing, several subpoenas were issued to several officers, including Sidney Police Sgt. Detective Rob Jameson, Sidney Capt. Jerry A. Tangeman, and Lt. Marcos Rodriguez.
The same day as the hearing on the motion to suppress, Steele entered into a plea agreement.
With the motion to suppress lifted, all information Steele conveyed during interrogation could potentially be used against him in the future on the two other charges, due to the fact he accepted the “nolle prosequi” stipulation.
Steele is currently in the Shelby County Jail awaiting sentencing scheduled for Feb. 24, 2022, in the Shelby County Common Pleas Court.