The Beverly man involved in a three-hour standoff with police after a domestic dispute Oct. 7 is free on bond following a preliminary hearing this week in Randolph County Magistrate Court.
Ronald E. Dutch, 59, posted bond Monday, after Randolph County Magistrate George "Mike" Riggleman altered his bond from $50,000 cash only to $50,000 cash or surety.
However, Riggleman found probable cause on all six charges that have been brought against Dutch, including one felony count of wanton endangerment and five felony counts of retaliation against a public officer or employee. The case will be bound over to Randolph County Circuit Court.
A verbal argument between Dutch and his wife escalated into the standoff between Dutch and police after Dutch allegedly fired shots above his residence and began ransacking the Dutchs' residence , which is located in the Woodland Drive Extension in the Beverly Hills subdivision. Dutch then fled to a wooded area.
After officers spent nearly three hours attempting to coax Dutch out of the woods, he surrendered, dropping a shotgun and a rifle he was holding, and was apprehended peacefully, according to previous reports.
During Monday's hearing, two of the alleged victims in the case - Dutch's wife, Jacqueline, and his father-in-law, Fred Ratzer - testified that they never thought Dutch would actually harm them.
Ratzer said that at one point in the course of the argument between Dutch and his daughter, Jacqueline, Dutch came over to his house and said that he would never see Ratzer again because Jacqueline "was going to divorce him." Ratzer said it was apparent Dutch had been drinking alcohol, which, when combined with Dutch's prescription medication, could cause him to be "mouthy and obnoxious," but not violent.
"I've never known him to harm anyone," Ratzer said, adding that after Dutch left his house, he drove to his daughter and son-in-law's home around 7 p.m. in an attempt to calm Dutch down. Ratzer said that when he pulled into the driveway, Dutch fired a shotgun in the air above his car.
"I just turned around because I thought, 'Ron doesn't want to talk,'" Ratzer said, "but I never felt any fear at all."
Jacqueline Dutch testified that "the only person I've ever worried about (Ronald Dutch) hurting is himself." She said she'd been pressured to file a motion for a protective order against Dutch and was in the midst of withdrawing it.
"They told me to put down that I feared for my life, but I didn't fear for my life," she said, adding that the police response to the incident was "overkill."
Dutch's employer, Herbert Kwasniewski, also testified on Dutch's behalf Monday, urging the magistrate to modify Dutch's bond so he could return to work. Kwasniewski said Dutch was the head sawer at JC Lumber Company "and a key member of our team."
"He is extremely important to us," Kwasniewski told Dutch's attorney, James Hawkins. "In fact, I almost didn't make it here on time today because I was helping out with some of the tasks he's normally in charge of." Kwasniewski said Dutch could be "plenty talkative" but had never been violent.
"This is extremely out of character," he said. When Hawkins asked if Kwasniewski recommended Dutch's bond be modified, he replied, "Yes, please."
However, Dutch didn't seem so harmless to West Virginia State Police Trooper First Class D.R. Wolford on Oct. 7. Wolford testified that when a search for Dutch inside his residence proved fruitless, he and other officers began shining lights into a wooded area attempting to locate Dutch.
"We initially tried to communicate with him, but he told us that if we didn't turn off our lights, he was going to turn them off for us," Wolford said. The state trooper also said Dutch warned police that "someone was going to get hurt" and that he and other officers could hear "the working of firearms and ammunition."
"Were you afraid?" Randolph County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Shannon Johnson asked Wolford.
Wolford replied that, "Anytime you're in that kind of situation where someone has a gun, yes, you're afraid."
Johnson asked that Riggleman find probable cause on all counts.
"These are very serious charges. I don't know how you can not think he's a danger to the community," she said, urging Riggleman to deny Hawkins' motion for modification of bail.
Hawkins conceded that Dutch was probably guilty of obstructing, but said the charge of retaliation against a public officer or employee was improperly applied.
"Retaliation requires you to do something after the fact, in response to an action, not simultaneously," Hawkins said. The fact that Ratzer never feared for his life nullified the charge of wanton endangerment, he insisted.
"There was not a substantial risk of bodily injury," Hawkins said.
Nonetheless, Riggleman found probable cause on all counts.
"However, I'm going to modify bond to $50,000 cash or surety with the following conditions," Riggleman said. "He's not to have any direct or indirect contact with Mr. Ratzer, he's to report to community corrections for all services, and he's to have a GPS monitor and an (alcohol-monitoring) SCRAM bracelet. And I don't want him drinking alcohol and using medication because that seems to be the problem."