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State Rep. Wes Retherford indicted on OVI charge, but not weapons charge

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Posted at 9:48 AM, Apr 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-18 11:57:53-04

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio -- A grand jury has indicted state Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, on a count of operating a vehicle under the influence.

But the grand jury didn't indict Retherford on a felony count of improperly handling a firearm in a vehicle.

The OVI charge was certified back to a lower court because it is a misdemeanor, WCPO media partner the Journal-News reports. The weapons charge was a fifth-degree felony.

Retherford agreed to appear and testify before the grand jury, Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said.

State and county Republicans have called on him to resign since his arrest last month. The prosecutor described those efforts as "a blood lust by his political enemies ... before the completion of the legal due process."

 

According to the Butler County Sheriff's Office, Retherford appeared to be passed out behind the wheel at a McDonald's drive-thru in Liberty Township on March 12. A 911 caller reported seeing a man in the driver's seat of a running Chevrolet Silverado at 3:23 a.m. that day.

"He's not even up to where he orders," the caller told an emergency dispatcher. "He's just sitting there."

Deputies sent to the scene found Retherford in the truck. His breath smelled of an alcoholic beverage, his speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot, the arresting deputy wrote in an incident report. Retherford also had a difficult time standing and appeared confused, the deputy wrote.

RELATED: Controversy over Retherford's liquor cabinet

A deputy stopped performing a field sobriety test on Retherford after the lawmaker "nearly fell over," according to the incident report.

 

The deputy then arrested Retherford, who said he also had a pistol in the truck. The deputy found the Glock 23 in a holder with 15 rounds in the magazine and one round in the chamber, according to the report. Gmoser said the holstered gun was under an arm rest.

Authorities drove Retherford to Ohio State Patrol Post 9 for a blood alcohol content test, but he refused the test. Then he was driven to the Butler County Jail.

Retherford appeared in court March 22 but said nothing as he left the building. He waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

The 33-year-old represents Ohio's 51st District, which includes the cities of Hamilton and Fairfield, Ross Township, and parts of Fairfield, Hanover and St. Clair townships. He was first elected to the office in 2012.