Stidham gets four years for involuntary manslaughter
MOUNT VERNON — In a court appearance that didn’t show up on the court docket until late Wednesday, John M. Stidham, 46, entered a guilty plea this morning. to a bill of information charging him with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Raymond Staats of Canton.
Stidham received a sentence of four years in prison, to be served consecutively with eight years in prison imposed by Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster a few minutes earlier on the pending counts.
The body of Staats, 41 when he disappeared in January of 2009, was found last week in a septic tank on property at 27700 Newcastle Road in Butler Township. That property was owned by Cami and John Stidham until it was foreclosed on last month.
In pleading guilty to the charge, Stidham read a prepared statement saying he “knowingly caused the death of Raymond Staats during a misdemeanor assault” on Jan. 9, 2009.
No mention was made in court of the assault, how Staats was killed, how and by whom he was placed in the septic tank or if any other parties were complicit in the death.
Stidham was put on today’s schedule for him to enter pleas in the 26 counts of various types pending against him and for the bill of information. In court, Knox County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Springer said the state was dropping three counts of receiving stolen property with gun specifications and a first degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of criminal activity.
Remaining were a total of 20 counts of aggravated theft, receiving stolen property and insurance fraud. Most of the sentences are to be served concurrently with each other, but consecutive to the aggravated theft charges, so he received what amounted to a sentence of 12 years in prison.
He was also ordered to pay court costs in both cases.
There were no members of Staats’ family in court today.
The News is continuing to follow this story.