A key witness and alleged victim of the man accused of shooting a Warren County Sheriff’s deputy in June has been indicted on charges of receiving stolen property and forgery.
Jason M. Ratliff, 22, testified against his neighbor, Mohammed Laghaoui, during a hearing in Mason Municipal Court after Laghaoui was arrested and charged with shooting his father and Deputy Katie Barnes, and shooting at Ratliff, during the June 9 active shooter incident at the Orchards of Landen apartment complex.
This is the latest complication in Laghaoui’s prosecution.
Laghaoui, 19, remains in the Warren County Jail on $2 million bond, facing attempted murder, felonious assault and other charges, some alleging he shot at Ratliff and fired rounds found in the closet of Ratliff’s child’s bedroom.
In an indictment made public Monday, Ratliff is alleged to have been in possession of a stolen, forged check on March 21.
“He ends up being a defendant in one case and a victim in another. That’s not unusual in our line of work,” Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said.
Authorities continue to search for the automatic rifle Laghaoui allegedly used in the incident and Laghaoui is pursuing a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity defense.
Still Fornshell said he is confident of convicting Laghaoui and questioned whether the charges against Ratliff would weaken his credibility.
“There’s a heck of a lot of other corroborating evidence,” Fornshell said. “I would be more concerned, if the case rose and fell with Jason Ratliff.”
While the rifle has yet to be recovered, shell casings were strewn around the area outside the apartments on Jonathan Lane, where Ratliff and Laghaoui lived. Detectives also found rounds, a manual for an AK-47, multiple cellphones and electronic devices in the apartment Laghaoui shared with his brother and father before the incident.
On Sept. 6, Judge Michael Gilb is to hear lawyers on both sides of the case argue over whether Laghaoui could qualify for a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity plea. Gilb already ordered Laghaoui to undergo a mental health evaluation in response to a motion by his lawyer, Timothy McKenna.
“Mr. Laghaoui appeared confused and disoriented as to the alleged events in the case. Further, based on counsel’s interaction with the defendant, counsel has a good faith belief that there may be a not guilty by reason of insanity defense,” McKenna said in the motion.
Ratliff is to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m.. Aug 12, on the felony charges against him.
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