Muskingum County Prosecutor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 14, 2023
Elijah Striblin sentenced to prison for probation violations
Following two days of contested hearings, Judge Kelly Cottrill determined that Elijah Striblin was guilty of violations of his community control and sentenced Striblin to one year in prison. The case began in 2022 when Striblin arrived at a local bar armed with a handgun.
Striblin sat at the bar, consumed alcohol, and then later got in a dispute with a Columbus-based gang member, Eric Sankey. The two fought in the bathroom, and, according to Striblin, when he was losing the fight he produced the firearm and shot Sankey in the neck.
While the case was pending Sankey was shot 15 times by unknown assailants in Columbus and survived, a feat he was unable to replicate when he met his demise after being gunned down again in August of 2023 in Columbus.
Ultimately, Striblin was convicted of illegally possessing a firearm in a liquor permit premises and inducing panic. Judge Cottrill placed Striblin on community control in February of 2023.
Community control sanctions, popularly referred to as probation, is a type of punishment used by the courts to attempt to rehabilitate an offender in the community. Typically the rules include a prohibition against the use of drugs, including marijuana, a curfew, restrictions on travel, a requirement for employment, and other conditions like community service. In Muskingum County, community control sanctions are actively enforced by the Muskingum County Adult Probation Department. Probation officers in that department use house checks, drug tests, phone reporting, and other tools to monitor compliance with the terms of probation.
As the court heard over the course of two days of testimony and argument, since February Striblin failed to comply with his community control by driving multiple times without a license, being dishonest with his probation officer, breaking curfew, moving to Columbus without permission, smoking marijuana, and not reporting when he lost his employment.
Striblin tried to argue in court that he did not believe that he was unemployed. Later, being questioned by Judge Cottrill, Striblin admitted that he had applied for unemployment, which was a strong indicator that he was aware that he was unemployed. Striblin claimed that his probation officer gave him permission to move to Columbus but then retracted it, a claim rebutted by the testimony of that officer.
Judge Cottrill also took into consideration the fact that Striblin returned to the location where he committed his crimes after the offense and after he was prohibited from being present on the premises. Striblin told the judge that he did not know he was not permitted to return, however Judge Cottrill pointed out that Striblin was convicted of criminal trespass out of the incident.
The judge also had at hand reports that employees of the establishment recalled getting a phone call asking if Striblin could be there before the incident, and that after he showed up and he was told to leave Striblin put on a ski mask and snuck into the bar anyway.
Assistant Prosecutor John Litle argued that the sum total of the violations demonstrated that Striblin did not believe the rules applied to him, and demonstrated a pattern of conduct designed entirely to frustrate the purposes of community control. Litle argued that, relevant to his sentencing, his offense involved the possession and discharge of a firearm, that the case was not the first time that Striblin was
involved in a gunfight, and that Striblin’s pervasive dishonesty during his testimony did not demonstrate that probation was likely to be successful.
The case had been a frustration to some local businesses due to the fact that Striblin was armed and caused a disruption to the business and was still given the opportunity of probation. That frustration was amplified a few months after Striblin’s offense when his brother and mother were involved with a separate group of persons who engaged in a shooting at the same establishment.
Judge Cottrill found Striblin guilty of the community control violations and sentenced him to prison for twelve months.
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