Area man sentenced in shooting, assault

STEUBENVILLE — A Toronto-area man who shot his wife in the ear and hit is mother-in-law with a rifle was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Thursday by Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Michelle Miller.

Brian I. Riggle, 43, of 5900 state Route 213, Toronto, pleaded guilty to charges of attempted murder, three counts of felonious assault and resisting arrest. The charges have firearm specifications and one had a specification that Riggle had been wearing body armor.

Riggle had been drinking on Jan. 18 and then was involved in an argument with his wife, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

Riggle shot his wife in the left ear lobe with a 9mm handgun, according to a report. The bullet then traveled down into her shoulder and exited from her back, the sheriff’s department reported. The wife ran into her mother’s room and told her mother she needed to go to the hospital because her ear was bleeding, according to the report.

Riggle then entered his mother-in-law’s room with an AK15 and hit her in the arm with the rifle, a deputy said. At that point, the wife ran from their house to a neighbor’s residence and called for help, the sheriff’s department reported. Riggle told his mother-in-law he was going to kill her and everyone else, including the cops.

The mother-in-law was able to run out of the house when Riggle heard the police arrive, a deputy said.

Riggle at first refused to open the door and then came into the doorway with a bulletproof vest and holding the AK 15.

Sheriff’s department Lt. Joseph Lamantia talked to Riggle for about 15 minutes before Riggle dropped the weapon.

Assistant Prosecutor Frank Bruzzese said Riggle’s wife said Riggle regularly lifted weights and then began injections of steroids.

Riggle about two weeks before the incident stopped the steroid injections, according to Bruzzese, who noted Riggle was taking medication for depression. Riggle apparently went into a steroid “withdrawal rage” on the day of the incident, Bruzzese said.

Bruzzese reported that the wife and mother-in-law said it was a happy marriage.

A no-contact order was issued after the charges were filed and neither Riggle nor his wife violated the order. The wife asked the no-contact order be lifted so she can visit her husband in prison, and Miller obliged and lifted the order.

Court-appointed defense attorney Steven Stickles said Riggle faced more than 16 years in prison if he was convicted and sentenced to the minimum. Bruzzese added Riggle faced a maximum of 32 1/2 years in prison.

“He was a good husband and son-in-law. Steroids caused a change in his behavior,” Stickles said of Riggle.

Bruzzese noted the courage of Lamantia in not firing at Riggle. He said footage from Lamantia’s body camera showed the deputy had plenty of opportunities to shoot Riggle.

“But for the grace of God, your wife is alive, your mother-in-law is alive, you are alive and no law enforcement officer was injured,” Miller told Riggle.

(Law can be contacted at mlaw@heraldstaronline.com.)

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