On Sept. 24, 2013, Keith Michael Fields was indicted on two counts of Aggravated Robbery, and two counts of Felonious Assault. Attached to all four counts was a gun specification.
In the early morning hours of March 29, 2013, Keith Fields and Britton Armstrong were looking for a home to burglarize in the area of Rohling Oaks Drive, in Union Township.
The victim, Charles Ruhstaller, was out walking his dog in the same area. While walking near the home that Fields and Armstrong were casing, Ruhstaller’s dog became frightened and drew his attention over to Fields and Armstrong.
Ruhstaller stopped and looked at the two, and the next thing he knew, both defendants were on top of him.
Armstrong approached Ruhstaller from behind, wielding a bat, while Fields approached Ruhstaller, pointing a shotgun at him from the front.
Fields demanded that Ruhstaller hand over his money, and when the victim indicated he did not have any money on him, Armstrong took his legs out with the bat.
As Ruhstaller was on the ground Fields came forward with the shotgun, Ruhstaller fought to keep the firearm away from his body. At that point, Fields pulled the trigger, and Ruhstaller was shot in the left thigh area, at point blank range.
The two defendants then ran through the woods, discarding the bat, and eventually discarding the firearm in the woods behind Fields’ apartment building.
Union Township Police Officers arrived on scene, quickly set up a perimeter, and conducted a dog track, locating both weapons. After the weapons were located, the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office then took over the track, which headed towards and was eventually terminated near Armstrong’s home where the two were the next morning.
On Feb. 10, this case proceeded to jury trial, and was tried by Prosecuting Attorney Vince Faris, and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lara Baron.
This case relied a great deal on a mixture of circumstantial and direct evidence, because the victim was unable to identify the assailants because they wore masks and gloves during the offense.
Thanks to excellent police work by both the Union Township Police Department and the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office, three additional lay witnesses came forward to testify to admissions Fields made concerning the shooting.
Those admissions, along with the circumstantial evidence secured on the evening of the shooting, convinced the jury of Fields’ guilt of all charges in under two hours.
Detective Todd Taylor of the Union Township Police Department was the lead investigator onthecase. Hisworkwasintegralinlocatinguncooperativewitnessesandfollowingupon all case leads.
Dog tracking evidence was a key to determining who the suspects were and eventually convicting them. Officer Mark Stephens of the Union Township Police Department and his dog, Daron, found thebat and the shotgun used in the assault. Deputy MeredithWalsh of the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office and her dog, Aaron, completed the track in the direction of the codefendant, Britton Armstrong’s residence. Officer Chris Wilson of the Union Township Police Department accompanied both officers and the dogs on the night of the shooting and provided testimony as to the findings.
Officer Michael Ventre was the first officer to arrive at the scene and attended to the victim. Soon thereafter, Sgt. Jeff Brown arrived and took charge of the placement of officers at the scene.
Cpl. Eric Newsome and Sgt. BJ Boerger of the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office were able to provide other circumstantial evidence important in the prosecution of the case.
On Feb. 26, Judge Richard Ferenc sentenced Keith Michael Fields to eight years on the Aggravated Robbery charge plus three years for the gun specification. He sentenced him the eight years on the Felonious Assault plus three years for the gun specification.
He ran all of these charges consecutive for a total of 22 years.
The Judge then made this sentence consecutive to the 12 year sentence that Fields is currently serving on separate Burglary convictions. Fields is now beginning his 34-year term in prison.
The codefendant, Britton Armstrong, is currently serving a 28 year sentence in prison for his role in these various offenses.