South Sentenced to 15 Years to Life in Prison for Ott Murder (W/VIDEO)
June 23, 2016

Convicted ‘Hit Man’ Also Gets 10 Years on Kidnapping Charges

An agitated Chad South, 46, still handcuffed, swung back and forth in his chair Wednesday morning during his sentencing for the murder of Burton Township resident Daniel Ott, 31, in 2006.

Prior to Geauga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Forrest Burt telling South he would spend a minimum of 28 years in prison, South, of Morraine, continued to protest his innocence in the kidnapping and shooting of Ott and the kidnapping of his then-girlfriend, Maryann Ricker.

“It doesn’t matter what I say. I was guilty before I got here. You made that clear,” South told Burt after accusing one of the detectives in his case of lying.

South started to say several other things, but his attorney, Geauga County Public Defender Bob Umholtz, urged him to stop.

During his preamble to South’s sentencing, Burt said South would also be subjected to five years post-release control because of the kidnapping charges.

However, Burt said the parole information was “… more a matter of form over substance, since you are being sentenced to prison for life.”

On the aggravated murder charge, Burt handed down a sentence of 15 years to life in prison “…necessary to protect the public and punish the defendant” and because the crimes were “… so great and unusual.”

South has a history of criminal activity, Burt added.

The judge hit South with two sentences of 10 years in prison for the kidnapping of Ott and Ricker.

The 10-year sentences will be served concurrently (together), but will run consecutively with the 15-years-to-life sentence. Burt also tacked on three more years for the firearm specifications.

After 28 years in prison, South will have a chance for parole.

He is one of four people charged in the murder of Ott and the first to be convicted and sentenced.

Prosecutors alleged 60-year-old Joseph Rosebrook, of Florida, hired South to kill Daniel C. Ott, a convicted car thief and reputed Rosebrook associate, in retaliation for his role in convicting Rosebrook of attempted murder for hire in 2005.

But instead of killing Daniel C. Ott — who has never lived in Geauga County and would have been around 70 years old in 2006 — South invaded the Geauga County home of 31-year-old Daniel E. Ott and murdered him.

South, Rosebrook and his 57-year-old brother, Carl “Jeff” Rosebrook — the alleged moneyman responsible for paying South — were named in a five-count indictment filed June 10, 2015, and charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, aggravated murder with prior calculation and design, aggravated murder during the commission of aggravated burglary, and the kidnapping of both Daniel E. Ott and Ricker.

In May, Mindie Mock Stanifer, 37 — who drove with South to Burton Township in 2006 to murder Daniel Ott — withdrew an earlier not guilty plea and pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony; kidnapping, a second-degree felony; and two counts of obstruction of justice, third-degree felonies.

Wednesday morning, when Burt invited South to speak before announcing the sentences, he said he didn’t expect South to say he was sorry, since he never confessed to the crimes.

“I understand you contend you are innocent. It’s sad you think you were determined to be guilty before trial,” Burt said, adding South was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

“It’s beyond sadness that a person is dead because he had the wrong name. You went to the wrong house and took a life,” Burt said.

Ironically, the Daniel C. Ott South was allegedly hired to kill has recently been convicted and will also be going to prison, the judge said. That Ott is 78 years old.

“Maybe you’ll see him there,” Burt said.

No fines will be charged to South because he has no resources, but South will be paying off court costs at the rate of $8 a month, the judge said, adding South is entitled to appeal his conviction and the sentences.

The victim’s family gathered in the courtroom for the sentencing and Ott’s father, Leroy Ott, of Vermillion, said after the courtroom was released that he felt South received a “good sentence.”