George Hiotis

Crime Spree Defendants Plead Not Guilty

by George Hiotis on March 16, 2011 at 5:09 am

Two area men facing multiple charges including kidnapping and aggravated robbery pleaded not guilty in Muskingum County Common Pleas Court. 25-year-old Michael Burkhart of Zanesville and 23-year-old Christopher Stone of Coshocton are charged in a 2010 crime spree that started in Muskingum County and ended up in western Pennsylvania. Sheriff Matt Lutz says the two tied up employees at knifepoint at Six County Crisis Hotline Center on Dillon Acres Drive, where they were voluntarily receiving mental health counseling. He says they took workers cash and credit cards and one of their vehicles and fled the scene. Lutz says the vehicle was abandoned in Belmont County and the two stole a semi-truck and were caught in Pennsylvania after robbing a grocery store and stealing a third vehicle. Judge Kelly Corttrill set each defendants bond at one-million dollars. A trial date is set for May 31st. The two – who are already serving a prison term – were brought to Muskingum County to face the local charges and will be returned to Pennsylvania to continue serving their time.