Judge candidate Rettich's account of fatal shooting posing issues

MIAMISBURG — When Robert Rettich addressed a group of Montgomery County Republicans on April 14, he briefly talked about a fatal shooting he was involved in back in 1978.

Rettich is an attorney who is running in the Republican primary race for Miamisburg Muncipal Court Judge against John Kolberg. He said he came home to surprise an intruder, who was stealing Rettich’s gun. They struggled, and the other man, Mark Rotellini, was shot in the face and died.

But police records from 1978 and 1979, including statements by Rettich and his wife, Kathy, tell a different story, namely that Rotellini had lived in the Miamisburg home and worked on it, that Rotellini had stolen some items from the Rettichs and wanted money for their return and that Rotellini walked in to the house behind Rettich.

“I think that’s highly problematic,” said Miamisburg Councilman Ryan Colvin, a precinct captain who is supporting John Kolberg, Rettich’s oppenent in the May 3 Republican primary.

Four people present, including Montgomery County Republican Party chair Greg Gantt, and attorneys Bridget Tracy and Fred Dressel, confirmed that Rettich told them he found an intruder in the home.

“I wouldn’t mislead anybody,” Rettich said Wednesday. “I’m sure he was inside.”

When read the details of the police statements, Rettich said they were all accurate. He then said that his memory of the struggle was “vivid” but not what led up to it.

“It’s not something you like thinking about,” Rettich said.

At the time, the Rettichs were staying with Kathy’s parents in Middletown, while the Miamisburg house, 101 Old Main St., was being renovated. The Rettichs hired William Sloan to work on the place. Sloan then hired his friend, Rotellini. The two stayed in the house while they were working on it.

Sloan later told police that, days before the July 24, 1978, shooting, Rotellini, 20, stole a television set from the residence and pawned it, then stole a microwave oven and sold it.

On July 23, the Rettichs confronted Sloan and Rotellini about the missing items and told them to leave the house, Sloan told police.

Kathy Rettich made a police report then returned to the house, where Rotellini told her he had found out who had taken the television. He said he could get it back for $30, she told police. She said she told her husband about it.

The Rettichs arrived at the house the next morning. Rotellini was in a car waiting there. The Rettichs went inside and picked up some items, including some shoes, according to their statements.

The Rettichs walked outside the house, and Kathy went to one of their cars, walking past Rotellini, who walked onto the porch. She told police she saw her husband go back into the house and Rotellini follow him.

Robert Rettich said, once inside, Rotellini started going up the stairs, then asked if he wanted his microwave oven. He said it would cost him $30. Rettich said he told Rotellini he wanted to go to the police and grabbed his arm. When he looked up, Rotellini was pointing a gun in his left hand, Rettich told police.

Rettich, who was not on the steps, grabbed his left arm, the two struggled and the gun went off, Rettich told police.

Records show Rotellini died the following day.

Rettich, with his defense attorney, took a polygraph. The defense said he passed it, but prosecutors said they wanted to do their own test and Rettich declined.

In January 1979, after prosecutors told police that the case could not be taken to the grand jury, the case was placed in the suspended file.

“It was a non-prosecutable case,” said former Miamisburg Sgt. Don Emmons. “There was not enough evidence to move forward.”

Rettich said Wednesday that the experience would make him a better judge because he understood what it was like to be a crime victim. He also called it a “last-ditch attempt” by Kolberg supporters to win the election.

But Ray Rotellini, Mark’s father and a well-known realtor who has been asking about the investigation since Rettich became a candidate, said he still wants answers.

“It has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat or Independent,” Rotellini said.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2057 or lgrieco@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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