Miami County men get 6 years for ‘unprovoked terror’ to repo man

TROY — A Miami County judge Tuesday sentenced two Union Twp. men to six years in prison on assault and firearms convictions from a 2017 confrontation during an attempted vehicle repossession.

Judge Christopher Gee said Eric Brown, 55, and Matthew Naff, 35, inflicted “unprovoked terror” on the victim who came to Naff’s home attempting to repossess a vehicle.

The men were found guilty by Gee after a trial in May in county Common Pleas Court of felonious assault and illegally discharging a firearm with firearms specifications in a May 2017 incident at Naff’s home near West Milton.

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Witnesses called 911 the morning of May 22, 2017, reporting shots were being fired around Ohio 571 and Rangeline Road. No one was injured.

During the trial, Gee was told John Couch, who worked for a repossession company, was at the Naff house when Naff thought he was attempting to break into the house and fired a 9-mm handgun into the ground near the him. Couch testified he was at the door simply to leave a note asking about the vehicle. Gee was told that Brown, who was living on a trailer at the property, came outside with a .22-caliber handgun and shot into the air.

The judge said Tuesday that Naff prevented Couch from getting to his truck and threatened to kill him. He was close enough that Couch “could feel the heat of the gun,” Gee said. Brown, who denied firing his gun, was complicit in the crimes, Gee said, adding, “You are 55 years old and you were acting like you were younger than Mr. Naff.”

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Naff’s lawyer, Jose Lopez of Troy, said Naff “engaged in foolish, childish behavior” but never intended harm to anyone. Brown’s lawyer, public defender Steve Layman, said Brown entered a situation that was “spiraling out of control. He insists his gun was never fired.”

Brown declined comment while Naff said he apologized. “I take full responsibility for what I’ve done,” he said.

Couch was able to run across the road and hide behind a tree to call 911.

He was in court Tuesday but did not comment. Gee said it was difficult to appreciate the harm done to the victim. “He, quite frankly, didn’t sleep for the entire year while this case was pending … until the defendants were taken into custody,” said Gee, who ordered both men jailed in May after issuing the guilty verdicts.

Naff was given credit for 50 days served in the county jail, while Brown received credit for 113 days served. Lopez asked Gee to set an appeal bond for Naff. Gee said he would take the request under advisement and issue a written decision.

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