Plea in Wanton Endangerment

The wanton endangerment trial of Michael Knight ended Tuesday after one day of testimony led to Knight pleading guilty to one charge.

Ohio County Circuit Judge James Mazzone took the plea in the second floor courtroom of the City-County Building while a jury waited in Mazzone’s fifth floor courtroom.

Mazzone accepted a joint recommendation by Assistant Prosecutor Brian Ghaphery and defense attorney Scott Brown to sentence Knight to 15 months in prison and the surrender of his firearms to authorities.

Without the plea, Knight was facing one-to-five years on each count. By pleading guilty to one charge in exchange for the 15-month sentence, he is eligible for parole in four months or he can discharge the sentence in seven and one-half months.

During Monday’s proceedings, the prosecution rested its case and Brown put his own client on the stand. Mazzone adjourned the session 5:30 p.m. with the intention of resuming at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Knight was facing three counts of wanton endangerment involving a firearm in connection with separate incidents at the El Villa Apartments on National Road in which Knight held another tenant at gunpoint March 15, 2013 and became engaged in a tense standoff with police Sept. 15.

Ghaphery said Knight greeted Wheeling police knocking at his door with a loaded gun pointed toward one of the officers.

He said Knight and the police officers had their fingers on the triggers of their guns during the 10-15 second standoff. Officers took Knight into custody after he complied with their repeated orders to lower his weapon.

In the earlier offense, he held a neighbor at gunpoint in the building’s boiler room.

Testimony revealed Knight regularly patrolled the building, owned by his sister and a brother-in-law, with a loaded gun as a security measure.