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Jail pepper-spray criminal case: Plea reached, sentencing Tuesday

The Montgomery County Jail pepper-spraying of a restrained inmate that sparked a national news story, an internal Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office investigation, a federal probe, a civil lawsuit and calls for jail oversight could end Tuesday with a misdemeanor plea and sentencing.

Judith Sealey — shown on surveillance video pepper-spraying Amber Swink while Swink was in a 7-point harness in November 2015 — will have a pretrial and sentencing hearing next week instead of a trial in Dayton Municipal Court, according to court documents obtained by this newspaper.

RELATED: No plea deal yet in jail pepper spray case

The lawsuit brought by Swink was was settled for $375,000. A jail oversight committee was formed in the wake of county commissioners calling for a second federal investigation. Federal officials haven’t publicly announced any findings into its first probe.

A joint motion approved Thursday by a visiting judge shows Cincinnati city prosecutors and Sealey’s attorney “have reached a negotiated plea agreement and wish to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to the court and prospective jurors.”

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The motion signed by Cincinnati Prosecutor’s Office assistant prosecutor Natalia Harris and defense attorney Anthony VanNoy does not address what the plea agreement is or if Sealey will serve any jail time, probation or fines.

The motion contains an agreed entry and order to change Tuesday’s event from a trial to a pretrial and sentencing hearing.

RELATED: New trial date set for former jail captain’s trial

VanNoy did not return a message seeking comment. Harris has said she will not comment on pending cases.

A scheduled pretrial hearing May 4 did not result in anything being put on the record in court in front of visiting Judge Judge Chris Martin, formerly of Fairfield County.

SPECIAL PROJECT: Justice in the Jailhouse: Lawsuits, accusations plague region’s county jails

Martin and Harris are on the case so as to not present the appearance of conflict of interest from the Dayton Prosecutor’s Office, which often works with area law enforcement.

Sealey, a sergeant at the time of the incident, has retired on medical disability, so there will be no further internal investigation, according to Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer.

RELATED: Former jail sergeant alleges cover-up of pepper-spray incident

Several current or former jail employees have been served subpoenas in the case, during which a grand jury declined felony charges.

The plea agreement means those witnesses will not take the stand to address issues relating to missing documentation of the incident.

RELATED: Complete timeline of pepper-spray incident at Montgomery County Jail

A previously unscheduled hearing was held Feb. 12 in which Sealey’s trial was continued from March 22. Sealey had pleaded not guilty.

Plummer has said Sealey was disciplined for not filing a use of force report, but not for her actions, which he said he didn’t see until he saw them online.

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Video of the pepper-spraying came to light months after the incident when Swink’s attorney, Douglas Brannon, posted it on his website.

Brannon, who has other clients suing jail personnel, declined comment Thursday.

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