An October trial was set for a Columbus man charged with two counts of murder in connection with a body that was discovered at Alum Creek earlier this month.
John David Choe Bartholomew, 24, appeared in Delaware County Common Pleas Court Wednesday morning where he entered a “not guilty” plea to two counts of aggravated murder, unclassified felonies; one count of robbery, a third-degree felony; two counts of tampering with evidence, third-degree felonies; and one count of abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony.
Delaware County Common Pleas Judge James P. Schuck scheduled a trial for Oct. 29 and scheduled a pretrial hearing for Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. Assistant Delaware County Prosecutor Doug Dumolt estimated that the trial will take between three to four days.
Schuck also denied bond for Bartholomew, meaning he can’t post bail and leave the Delaware County Jail, but Schuck noted he’d be opened to motions on bond in the future.
Bartholomew was in the Delaware County Jail Wednesday.
According to the probable cause affidavit filed in Delaware Municipal Court by detectives in the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, an Ohio Department of Natural Resources officer was on patrol in Alum Creek State Park on July 4 when he saw what he believed to be drag marks leading to a shallow grave, which contained the body of Brittany D. McDowell, a Columbus resident.
An investigation was started by DCSO detectives, who report that McDowell was found naked in the grave with two gunshot wounds to the head.
The affidavit states that on July 8, investigators received a tip from a vehicle cleaning service that stated they had been asked to clean up blood in a vehicle belonging to Bartholomew. Bartholomew told his father, who hired the cleaning service, that he had placed a dead squirrel in the vehicle. The individual hired to clean the vehicle, however, became suspicious because of the amount of blood in the vehicle and contacted detectives.
The affidavit reports that detectives spoke to Bartholomew on July 9 at the Perry Township Police Department, where he told them he picked up a prostitute on July 3 in the area of Sullivant Avenue in Columbus and paid her for oral and vaginal sex.
According to the affidavit, Bartholomew was shown a picture of McDowell and said she was the prostitute he had hired. He told detectives that after they had sex, she demanded more money from him and threatened to tase him and call someone. Bartholomew told detectives that he reached under his seat, retrieved a .22 caliber handgun and shot her once in the head. He said she began screaming and hitting him so he took a 9 mm pistol from under his seat and shot her in the head again, killing her instantly.
Bartholomew told detectives that he drove McDowell to the woods and left her body while he went to retrieve a shovel. The affidavit states he told investigators that he took her clothes and other items to avoid leaving any physical evidence and told detectives they could find these items at his home. Investigators then arrested Bartholomew and executed several search warrants, including at his home, where they located the evidence he described.
Detectives note they read Bartholomew his Miranda Rights after he identified McDowell but before he described the details of the crime.
According to the Ohio Revised Code, Bartholomew faces 15 years to life in prison for each murder charge, while the potential prison terms for the third-degree felony charges range between nine and 36 months in prison. The prison term for the fifth-degree felony charge is up to a year in prison. The murder and robbery charges carry a firearm specification, which would add mandatory prison time to any potential prison term.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.