Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Dec. 5 newspaper on Page A1.
The fatal shooting of Charles Duncan Sr. at a West Washington Street apartment in Athens on Nov. 25 allegedly occurred during an attempt to collect a drug debt, according to the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office.
The allegation was part of a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity to which one of the people present at the shooting pleaded guilty Tuesday in Athens County Common Pleas Court.
Jonathon McLaughlin, 23, of Glouster, pleaded guilty to felony charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, having weapons while under disability, aggravated trafficking in drugs and burglary. Judge Patrick Lang sentenced him to 18 years in prison, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office.
County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said that as part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed not to oppose judicial release after nine years have been served, provided McLaughlin gets a favorable report from prison.
According to corrupt activities charge, in the early morning hours of Nov. 25 McLaughlin allegedly delivered methamphetamine to Duncan and/or a woman staying with him, but Duncan failed to pay for it. McLaughlin left but returned later to the 221 W. Washington St. residence, bringing with him Bernard Mitchell and Michael Russell. Mitchell allegedly began kicking the door, and Russell allegedly fired a gunshot through the front entrance of the door and struck Duncan, who died at the scene.
Mitchell and Russell have been charged in Athens County Municipal Court with involuntary manslaughter and robbery, as previously reported.
The corrupt activities charge also alleges that on the evening prior to the shooting, McLaughlin sold the drug ecstasy to Duncan and the woman.
As The Messenger previously reported, McLaughlin and two other men — Troy Vermillion II, 28, Athens and Robert A. Martin, 26, Athens — have been charged in Athens County Municipal Court with a burglary involving the theft of guns. Blackburn said it was the burglary to which McLaughlin pleaded guilty Tuesday in common pleas court. The guns were allegedly stolen Nov. 24 from the home of McLaughlin’s parents and used to pay a drug debt.