More than 60 law enforcement officers from around the county were in court last week to show their support for two Clermont County deputies who were injured in the line of duty last year.
The perpetrator of the assault, Larry Armacost, was due for sentencing in the incident, which started as a noise complaint and ended with two deputies seriously injured.
“Mr. Armacost was found guilty of four counts of felonious assault,” said Judge Robert Ringland. “He was also found guilty of two counts of resisting arrest. Now we are set for sentencing.”
Defense attorney Ken Zuk requested that the judge allow some of the counts against Armacost to be combined, creating a lower possible sentence for the defendant, which was denied. Zuk also argued that his client be recognized as sorry for the actions he committed.
Zuk also said that the court records also incorrectly identified Larry as Terry, his brother, which Zuk said had caused his client's brother some distress.
"He wants to make it clear, he is responsible for this, and his brother should not have this designation placed upon him," said Zuk. "His brother has apparently had some problems with law enforcement that think he is Larry."
However, pleas from the defendant himself failed to convince the court of his sincerity in apologizing for the incident.
"At no given time did I ever not feel sorry about this," said Armacost. "I don't know how to fix it. They just kept hitting me, and I tried to dodge it. I don't remember doing it. I just remember saying I'm sorry. I don't know how to fix this, and I don't ever advocate hurting a cop. Don't do it, it's stupid."
Jason Nagel, prosecuting the case, said that Armacost's actions showed a lack of concern over the incident, noting that two officers were assaulted for no reason. Armacost, he said, had at times blamed the officers, who he said were assaulting him, or even chance as the reasoning behind the incident. Sheriff Tim Rodenberg said that excuses were not sufficient to justify the actions.
"Your honor, I appreciate the opportunity to be here today," said Sheriff Rodenberg. "We have been most fortunate here in Clermont County in the past that our officers are rarely seriously injured pursuing their duties. It's only through the grace of God that neither the deputies or Mr. Armacost died as a result of these actions. The wounds the deputies sustained were frighteningly close to becoming deadly. One deputy had an artery that was almost cut, and the other had an eye that was almost stabbed out. Beyond that, by using a deadly weapon, Mr. Armacost could have been shot and killed. Such an end would have been legally justified. This happened in a dark area. These deputies are true professionals. What Mr. Armacost did was an insult to law enforcement everywhere. The presence of law enforcement officers from around the county attests to that."
According to the prosecution, Armacost was recorded talking to friends and family, boasting about the incident that he said was like "carving them up like a turkey." Judge Ringland agreed with the prosecution, noting that the defendant was not a good study in remorse.
"He shows a complete callousness, a disregard of any remorse in the statements he's made, despite what he says," said Judge Ringland. "He's also come up with several theories as to why he's done what he did. He said in the trial that he was being assaulted by the officers and it was self defense. The latest is that the knife, that was in his pocket, somehow got loose and cut the officers. I have to take a look at the effect this has had on the deputies. The trauma goes beyond the officers, the officer's families have been traumatized, and their children now have a fear of their fathers going to work. My position on this has been consistent. When you start assaulting the authorities, it's a visible sign of decay in our society. As far as I'm concerned, I will do everything I can to stop that."
Labeling Armacost as a high risk for reoffense, Judge Ringland sentenced him to approximately 23 years in jail. Sheriff Rodenberg said after the sentencing that the message was to respect the law.
"I think we had every agency in Clermont County represented," said Sheriff Rodenberg. "I think every chief was there. This shows the support to our deputies. If this happens, you're assaulting all of us, not just one. We support each other. This might get the message across."
According to Sheriff Rodenberg, criminals in the area should take note and consider the consequences before committing any crime, specifically ones involving violence against police officers.
Armacost appealed the decision.