HILLSBORO — A Batavia man accused of helping two other men dump a dead body in a Highland County field pled guilty on Monday to involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence.
As part of a plea agreement with the Highland County Prosecutor’s Office, Steve A. Davis, 40, Batavia, will assist in the prosecution of his co-defendants, Stoney Behler and John Disney. A third charge filed against him, abuse of a corpse, was dismissed as part of the agreement.
As previously reported, Davis was with Behler, 37, and Disney, 39, both from Cincinnati, when Behler allegedly shot Dakota Spurlock as the three men attempted to rob him of drugs and money in Clermont County. Prosecutors say the three men later dumped Spurlock’s body in the entrance to a field near New Market.
Judge Rocky Coss on Monday delayed Davis’ sentencing hearing until after the cases against Behler and Disney have been resolved. The judge said he wanted to see how well Davis cooperates with prosecutors before issuing the sentence. Behler’s case is scheduled for a jury trial Tuesday, Aug. 21. Disney’s trial is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 23. Coss set Davis’ sentencing hearing for Friday, Aug. 24.
Davis, who was originally set to go before a jury next Monday, faces up to 11 years on the manslaughter charge and up to three years on the tampering charge. He is represented by attorney Bill Armintrout.
All three men were indicted in May on one count of involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony, one count of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, and one count of abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony.
Behler was also indicted on one count of having weapons under disability, a third-degree felony.
On Monday, Coss described the circumstances surrounding the killing as a “drug deal gone wrong.”
As previously reported, Behler, Disney and Davis had arranged to buy heroin and “ice,” a type of methamphetamine, from Spurlock, but when Spurlock got in a borrowed Ford Explorer with them, Behler pulled a gun on Spurlock and said they intended to take his drugs and money, according to a bill of particulars filed in the case.
One witness said when Spurlock left a residence to meet with Behler, Disney and Davis, he had heroin, ice and $3,000 to $5,000 in cash with him.
According to the bill, Davis then punched Spurlock, and Behler shot Spurlock in the chest.
Behler later told another person that Spurlock had pulled a gun on him, and he bragged about shooting Spurlock, according to the bill.
The three men then drove to Davidson Road near New Market and allegedly dumped the body in a ditch, the bill said.
“Behler took Spurlock’s shoes and wallet and other personal items and was wearing Spurlock’s shoes at a later date,” the bill said.
Behler threw the gun off a bridge into the Ohio River, according to the bill, and later showed detectives with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office where he threw it.
The bill said Davis allegedly continued to message Spurlock on Facebook after his death in order to mislead law enforcement during the investigation.
As previously reported, a farmer found Spurlock’s body with a gunshot wound to the chest. Blood samples collected from Spurlock matched blood found in the Explorer, according to the bill.
Attorney J.D. Wagoner, who represents Behler, said at a recent hearing that there is a “vast amount” of evidence in his client’s case. Highland County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jim Roeder said he expects Behler’s trial will take at least two days.
Behler is currently serving a prison sentence in a separate case. He is expected to be released in December.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.