Barn assault defendant pleads guilty


A co-defendant in a brutal kidnapping, assault and robbery of a victim at a local barn east of Columbus last summer has agreed to plead guilty in a plea bargain agreement and testify truthfully in court against other defendants.

Along with three co-defendants, Ashton Fields, 19, of 762 Clifty Drive-C was originally charged with kidnapping, criminal confinement and aggravated battery for the June 2, 2023 attack on a 19-year-old male. If convicted of all four counts, Fields could face up to 78 years in prison, as well as $40,000 in fines.

However, Fields accepted a plea bargain Monday in Bartholomew Superior Court 1 that allows him to plead guilty to just one felony charge: assisting a criminal as a Level 5 felony. The agreement calls for Fields to serve a maximum of four years in prison, with the remaining time to be spent in some form of Community Corrections program.

In order to get this deal, Fields must testify truthfully during legal proceedings for three co-defendants, Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge James Worton said. A probable cause affidavit indicates Fields’ involvement in the crimes was limited in comparison with the others charged in the attack.

A sentencing hearing for Fields is scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 8.

Last March, co-defendant Charles A. Breedlove, 19, was sentenced to 20 years for his part in the crimes, with at least 10 to be served in prison. He will spend the next five years following incarceration in a Community Corrections program, while the remaining time will involve conventional probation, Worton said.

Breedlove entered a guilty plea to robbery resulting in serious bodily injury as a Level 2 felony. In exchange, prosecutors dropped Level 3 felony charges of kidnapping, criminal confinement and aggravated battery. In addition, Breedlove has agreed to pay restitution to the male victim in the amount of $8,587.

The remaining co-defendants are Emily Franklin, 19, of Commiskey and Zablin “Jai” Woodruff, 19, of 238 N. Hughes St. Originally, they were charged with kidnapping, criminal confinement and aggravated battery.

Franklin is scheduled to appear before Worton at 9:15 a.m. on May 20 for a change of plea hearing. Worton is also expected to rule that day on a request to separate legal proceedings against Franklin from the other defendants. Her trial is tentatively set for 8:30 a.m on June 18.

Woodruff, who is facing a fourth felony charge of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury at a Level 2 felony, isn’t scheduled to be back in court until 10 a.m. on July 29. Either a final pre-trial conference or a change of plea hearing will take place at that time, court officials said. Woodruff’s trial is set for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 27.

According to investigators, the victim was driven by Franklin under false pretenses to a barn on Bonnell Road the night of June 2, 2023, where the three males were waiting. A probable cause affidavit states the victim was grabbed by the neck before he was punched in the face.

Investigators wrote that Breedlove and Woodruff took turns with a knife attempting to cut the victim before Breedlove brandished a pistol from his waistband and pistol-whipped the victim, court documents state.

Breedlove pointed a pistol at the victim’s head multiple times and said, “I’m going to blow your head off,” “these are your last minutes on earth” and “this is it,” according to the probable cause affidavit.

The victim told investigators Woodruff held him down while Breedlove cut off his hair and cut the skin covering his throat with a pair of scissors, the affidavit states. He later had a liquid thrown on his face that burned his faces and eyes, the police report states. Woodruff and Breedlove unsuccessfully attempted to break some of the victim’s fingers, investigators wrote.

After taking the victim’s sweatshirt, shoes and iPhone, the defendants left the barn, investigators state. The victim told police he went to four different homes for help before he found himself at the residence of Indiana State Police Trooper Rick Roseberry, who called for emergency medical assistance.