POMEROY — A Middleport man accused of murdering his father was arraigned in Meigs County Common Pleas Court on Friday morning.
James E. Gardner, 40, of Middleport, was formally charged with one count of aggravated murder in the death of James W. Gardner, and three counts of aggravated robbery.
Gardner is accused of murdering his father, James W. Gardner, at his residence on Wells Road near Middleport on Nov. 11.
According to Meigs County Prosecutor Colleen Williams, the three counts of aggravated robbery involve stealing a truck, four-wheeler and credit cards from his deceased father.
James W. Gardner’s body was found at the residence where the two lived on Wells Road near the Meigs-Gallia County line in the evening hours of Nov. 11. In the days following the death, the younger Gardner was labeled a person of interest in the suspicious death.
Meigs County Sheriff Robert Beegle stated, at that time, the unofficial cause of death was blunt force trauma.
The truck, with a red ATV in the bed, was missing from the property when the elder Gardner’s body was found. Witnesses claimed to have seen the younger Gardner driving the truck across the Silver Memorial Bridge just hours following the apparent homicide. Those vehicles, in addition to a motorcycle and a yellow ATV, were recovered in southern Gallia County over the course of the past month.
Gardner remained on the run from authorities until Dec. 7 when he was taken into custody by Gallia County Sheriff’s deputies.
Last week, Gardner appeared in Meigs County Court on one count of theft and was charged in the same court with murder. The theft charge was bound over to the grand jury, while the initial murder charge has now been dismissed due to the filing of the indictment.
Herman Carson, with the Ohio Public Defenders Office in Athens, was appointed to represent Gardner in the case.
Bond for Gardner was set at $900,000. He was remanded to the custody of the Meigs County Sheriff and is being housed in the Washington County Jail.
A pretrial hearing is set for 10 a.m. on Feb. 25, 2013, with a trial date set for March 5, 2013.