Nick McWilliams reporting – Daniel Fitzgerald has decided to forego a bench trial, changing his plea to guilty for his involvement in the dumping of the body of Amber Sherrell.

The 39-year-old Fitzgerald, who is currently being held in the Tuscarawas County Justice Center, appeared before Judge Michael Ernest to change his plea Tuesday.

Defense Attorney Richard Drake, speaking on behalf of Fitzgerald at the hearing, said that Fitzgerald was asked by Cekoyia Riechers, the woman whose home Sherrell overdosed and died in, to assist with removing her body.

“He did move the body to the garage. [Riechers] was rather insistent that the plan was to, since she was her friend, to let her family know what had happened, but not get here into any trouble. She wanted the body taken to a location that she knew, and to put the body there at night so that she wouldn’t be caught. And the next morning, when the sun came up, the body would be discovered immediately.”

Ernest accepted the change, finding Fitzgerald guilty of one count of tampering with evidence, one count of gross abuse of a corpse, and a count of failing to report a death.

A second tampering with evidence count was removed by the state as a part of the plea.

The tampering count is a third-degree felony, which can be punishable by up to 36 months in prison and a $10,000 fine, and the gross abuse of a corpse count is a fifth-degree felony which can carry up to 12 months in prison with a $2,500 fine.

The failure to report is a misdemeanor, and will likely not carry prison time.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 24th at 11 a.m.

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