On second thought, man takes plea deal

LISBON – Following one day of testimony in his jury trial on charges of kidnapping and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, Jeremy Mollenkopf decided to take a plea deal on Wednesday.

Mollenkopf, South Beaver Street, Lisbon, pleaded guilty in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court to a lesser charge of abduction and to the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle for an incident that occurred June 28, 2013.

The kidnapping charge, a first-degree felony, could have meant an 11-year prison sentence, but the abduction charge is a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of three years.

Assistant County Prosecutor John Gamble said the victim in the case, Tabitha Kirtley, was satisfied with knowing there was a definite guilty verdict in the case. He said she wanted the satisfaction of hearing Mollenkopf say he did it.

Mollenkopf’s trial had been scheduled to continue Wednesday morning. The jury arrived before 9 a.m. and then was sent out for a break at 9:30 while Mollenkopf continued to meet with his attorney, Joseph King.

By 10:30, Mollenkopf was offering his plea deal in front of Judge Scott Washam, while Kirtley held back tears in the courtroom. The jury was in the back room during the plea and jurors were dismissed shortly after.

Gamble said he intends to ask for a 30-month prison sentence for Mollenkopf. He will remain out on bail with the condition he have no contact with Kirtley. Sentencing is set for Aug. 7.

According to Kirtley’s testimony, Mollenkopf held her at gunpoint, tied her up with Zip ties, put duct tape over her mouth, drove her down back roads in her vehicle and threatened to kill her and harm her child. Then she made her escape, falling once while running to a nearby home as he threatened to shoot her. He then drove away in her Jeep.