MIAMI COUNTY — A Piqua man will spend at least eight years in prison for assaulting a 78-year-old man last August.
Eric D. Root, 39, of Piqua, was indicted by a grand jury for first-degree felony kidnapping, second-degree felonious assault, and third-degree felony abduction.
Root entered a plea of guilty on all three counts on Jan. 9. The elderly victim suffered permanent brain damage and continues to receive treatment for the injuries he sustained from Root. The victim’s injuries also included a broken scapula, a broken nose, and an internal bleed inside of his head.
Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeannine Pratt said, “This is just an awful case to me” and that Root had “disregard for human life.”
Pratt honored the joint recommendation of a minimum prison sentence of eight years up to 12 years maximum for the violent offenses. Root must register annually as a violent offender once he’s released from prison.
Defense attorney Kevin Lennen said Root has accepted responsibility for his conduct.
With several family members of the victim present, Root apologized to the victim and said he felt horrible for what he had done while he was under the influence of methamphetamine.
“(The victim) let me stay at his house and I turned around and did this to him,” Root said.
Miami County Assistant Prosecutor Paul Watkins said the victim took Root and his girlfriend into his home and Root repaid the favor by giving the elderly man a life sentence of hardship from the injuries he sustained.
“(The victim) is never going to be the same,” Watkins said.
A relative of the victim read three statements from family members and the victim in court.
The victim called Root “ruthless and has no regard for human life.”
“I don’t understand why he did this to me,” the victim said in the statement. “I tried to help him and his girlfriend and gave them a place to lay their heads.”
Other statements included how the victim, a veteran and senior citizen, now needs round the clock care due to the traumatic brain injury he sustained and how it changed his life forever. A family member described the once independent man had to learn how to walk again and now needs help with daily care.
“There’s no excuse to make a punching bag out of (the victim),” a family member stated.
Last August, Root and his girlfriend were living with the victim, who sought “roommates” to help with daily chores at his trailer home in the 1700 block of South Main Street in Piqua.
Root refused to allow the victim to leave, tying him up with a belt and using a sock to the mouth to keep him quiet inside the trailer. The victim was able to escape and made contact with a third party about Root’s actions in the 1100 block of South Main Street. As the witnesses were on the way to the Piqua Police Department, Root arrived, driving the victim’s vehicle. Root then struck the victim “in the head area and dragged him into the passenger seat of the car and drove away.”
Miami County Sheriff’s deputies located the victim’s vehicle on the 6800 block of Troy-Sidney Road, and it was unoccupied. A witness reported a female subject had been driving the vehicle by herself and took off after she ran out of fuel. Root’s girlfriend, who was not charged in connection with this incident, was located a few minutes later and picked up on a warrant.
Police then responded to the trailer on the 1700 block of South Main Street where Root and the victim were reportedly living. Police used forced entry into the residence to check on the victim’s welfare. Root was found on the other side of the door holding it shut, according to reports. The victim was also found lying in the rear hallway of the trailer.
Root reportedly took the victim’s “house keys, car keys, phone away from him” in order to allegedly “keep him (the victim) at the house.”
Reach Melanie Yingst at email@example.com
© 2020 Miami Valley Today; all rights reserved.