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MILLERSBURG -- A Holmesville man arrested for wandering around downtown Millersburg with a knife in April was sentenced to six months in jail.
Last month, Andrew Whitman, 34, of 7277 Township Road 525, pleaded no contest to aggravated menacing stemming from the incident. Related charges of disorderly conduct and inducing panic were dismissed in exchange for Whitman's plea.
Similarly, Whitman pleaded no contest to unrelated charges of aggravated menacing and criminal damaging, prompting dismissal of additional charges of domestic violence, menacing and criminal trespassing were dismissed.
Whitman's plea agreement with the state included a joint sentencing recommendation of 180 days in the Holmes County Jail, with an additional 180-day sentence suspended in favor of two years of probation.
Appearing via video from the jail, Whitman, at one point said he wanted to back out of the deal because he was unaware of the term of probation, despite insistence to the contrary by his attorney, Stephen Dailey.
"I'm (upset) and I've been stuck in solitary confinement for three weeks, under duress. I'm being punished for something I didn't do in the first place," said an irate Whitman, adding, "I can't even groom myself without putting in a day's notice."
Eventually, Whitman rose from his seat and announced, "I'm going back to my cage."
However, Holmes County Municipal Judge Andrew Hyde ordered Whitman to return, noting "the only source of dispute is the length of probation."
"I'm not going to throw these pleas out. I think you knew (the terms of the deal)," Hyde told Whitman, adding, the term of probation was less of a concern for him than the need to address the "overriding issue" of Whitman's mental health.
"It all will be revised if you're getting proper treatment and everyone tells me you're fine," said Hyde, noting that, by all accounts, Whitman does well when receiving proper treatment.
To that end, Hyde said, he would consider not only an early termination to Whitman's probation, but he would entertain a request for early release from the jail.
"Will follow your case and stay involved. It may not be necessary you serve all six months in jail," said Hyde, adding, "I don't think jail serves any purpose for a mental health episode."
Hyde encouraged Whitman to work with the doctors and counselors to find an effective treatment. "Your behavior out there is going to be real important," he said. "It's not what you say to me, but what you do out there that's going to matter the most."
Whitman has been in custody since April 24 when the Millersburg Police Department received numerous calls regarding Whitman "walking around town with a knife," according to an affidavit filed with the municipal court by Capt. Kim Herman.
"I witnessed him carrying a large knife on South Washington Street and later on a bench in front of the courthouse," according to the document, in which Herman also notes he was called to the nearby BP gas station, where a caller reported feeling threatened by Whitman.
Herman said he took the knife and gave it to courthouse security personnel. He said he also warned Whitman to leave the gas station and not return to the property.
"Andrew Whitman obtained a second knife, resulting in additional calls and a return trip to BP where Andrew Whitman was arrested," according to the affidavit, in which Herman notes that in the week preceding Whitman "was the subject of multiple reports indicating he was causing inconvenience and alarm, involving harassment of law enforcement personnel.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.