A Troy man whose two Miami County trials on eight felony rape charges ended last year without jury verdicts entered an Alford guilty plea Monday to a new indictment for abduction, erasing the need for a third trial.
Charles Hiser, 37, was scheduled to go on trial again March 6-8 in county Common Pleas Court.
In a plea deal with prosecutors, Hiser made the plea to a felony abduction charge. Prosecutors said they would dismiss the rape charges and recommend an 18-month prison term.
The abduction charge carries a maximum term of three years in prison. If convicted of the original charges, Hiser could have faced life in prison. He has been in jail since his arrest in February 2017.
With an Alford plea, the defendant admits prosecutors can prove the charges but still maintains his innocence.
Judge Christopher Gee discussed the Alford plea with Hiser, saying “It is a somewhat unusual circumstance.”
Hiser said he understood that while he maintained his innocence it was advisable to make the plea because of the “high risk ” he faced with the rape charges and any conviction.
Hiser said he was aware of the evidence against him after sitting through testimony in two trials and that jurors in the hung jury case had voted 9-3 for his conviction.
The first trial in October ended in a mistrial after some jurors said they had seen or heard about media accounts in the case. The second trial ended Dec. 15 in a hung jury when jurors said they were unable to reach a verdict after 10.5 hours of deliberations.
Hiser faced eight felony rape indictments for alleged sexual contact and sexual conduct with a person under age 10 and then under age 13 between February 2012 and late 2016 in Piqua and Troy.
Jana Parker, the assistant county prosecutor who handled the case, said prosecutors had quite a bit of feedback from jurors in the two trials.
“The concern was whether we could ever seat a jury that could convict him,” Parker said after the plea hearing.
The jurors hesitations with the case were things that couldn’t be changed and there was also concerns about the girl having to testify again, she said.
After accepting Hiser’s plea, Gee ordered a presentence investigation. Sentencing was scheduled for April 9.
Hiser had a prior conviction for misdemeanor sexual imposition in 2006 and was classified Tier 1 sex offender.
Gee continued the previously set $550,000 bond for Hiser.
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