Young accomplice in near fatal home invasion, beating of elderly man sentenced


By Staff Report

A young Zanesville man will spend the next decade in prison, the rest of his 20s, after he pleaded guilty earlier this month to being an accomplice to a near-fatal beating of an elderly man.

John Hill Jr., 22-years-old, was indicted earlier this year by a Muskingum County grand jury following a February home invasion in which the victim needed extensive medical treatment.

First reported by Y-City News following a press conference by Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz, both Hill and his codefendant John McFarland Jr., 38-years-old, were identified and apprehended after “diligent and exhaustive police work by deputies and detectives.”

According to the sheriff, on the night of Saturday, February 13, the two suspects entered the elderly man’s residence along Gills Hollow Road with the intent to rob him.

During the burglary, the suspects used the homeowner’s own shotgun against him, causing severe injuries to his head.

After the assault, the two individuals stole multiple items from the elderly man’s home, leaving him in life-threatening condition.

According to scanner traffic at the time, a medical helicopter was dispatched to the scene to transport the elderly man due to the severity of his injures.

“The victim is very fortunate to be alive,” Lutz said at the time.

According to Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John Litle, the planned home invasion turned assault occurred in the late evening hours after the two defendants became aware of questionable activity by the victim.

Allegedly, the elderly man was known to pay underage girls for both nude images and sexual favors.

Instead of alerting police of the illegal activity, Litle said, both McFarland and Hill devised a scheme to rob the elderly man of his money.

Once inside the home, the two beat the man and struck him multiple times in the head with his own shotgun.

The injuries were so severe that he nearly died, needing over five dozen staples in his head and having sustained multiple other bodily injuries including a broken rib and finger.

After the assault, the two stole the victim’s wallet, shotgun and television.

Using multiple law enforcement investigative techniques, including surveillance cameras, detectives were able to identify the getaway vehicle and place a be-on-the-lookout to county deputies.

Nearly a week later, the car was found which led investigators back to who was driving it the night of the nearly fatal assault.

McFarland, considered to be the organizer of the home invasion, was sentenced in early April to nearly two decades in prison.

Hill, the younger of the two and lacking any previous criminal record, was originally charged with multiple felonies, including aggravated robbery, felonious assault and tampering with evidence.

After extensive negotiations between his defense attorney and prosecutors, Hill pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated burglary with a firearm specification, a first-degree felony.

When addressing the court, Hill said he was sorry and that he never planned for the situation to get as out of hand as it did.

Judge Mark Fleegle told Hill that he was very lucky the victim survived or that he would likely be looking at a life sentence.

“I’ve seen the pictures,” said Fleegle in regards to the deep laceration in the victim’s head. “It’s a great benefit to you the other charges were dropped, you could have been facing multiple consecutive sentences.”

Ultimately, Fleegle sentenced Hill to a minimum of 11 years in prison with a possible maximum sentence of 15 years.

After he is released, likely sometime in the early to mid-2030s, Hill will be required to serve five years of mandatory post-release control.