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Published: Tuesday, 5/11/2010

3 men sentenced for roles in brutal beating of Gibsonburg couple


FREMONT — A Woodville man who knew James Kohler had a large collection of guns at his Gibsonburg home when he and two others broke in, stole the guns, and beat Mr. Kohler and his wife was sentenced Tuesday to 23 years in prison.

Jimmy Houston, 34, also was ordered to pay $23,698 restitution to the Kohlers to cover the value of the guns and cash stolen and to pay for damage to their house.

Sandusky County Common Pleas Judge John Dewey said the crime "was about as heinous as they come."

"Clearly the victims were physically damaged, psychologically damaged," the judge said. "I have difficulty comprehending the necessity for violence in this case. It was over the top."

Houston pleaded guilty last month to two counts of attempted murder and one count each of kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and grand theft stemming from the July 2 assault on Mr. Kohler, 74, and his wife, Mary, 76.

Sandusky County Prosecutor Tom Stierwalt said Houston had been to the Kohlers' home on at least two occasions before the break-in and had sold guns to Mr. Kohler, an avid gun collector.

Earlier Tuesday, Judge Dewey sentenced Paul Biddwell, 33, of Alvada, and Ronald Ruby, 33, of Toledo to 22 years in prison and also ordered them to pay restitution of $23,698.

Biddwell and Ruby earlier had pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder and one count each of kidnapping, aggravated burglary with a firearms specification, and grand theft.

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