Accused JC robber apologizes during Unicoi Co. arraignment, says was on meds and remembers nothing
Brad Hicks and Becky Campbell
Today at 6:44 PM
ERWIN — A Unicoi County man claimed he was high on medications during a Johnson City robbery and police chase through two counties that led to his arrest Tuesday.
Ariel F. Muller also used his first appearance in Unicoi County Sessions Court Wednesday to apologize to everyone in court and the community for what happened.
“I was on a lot of medication … and I don’t remember nothing,” Muller said to Judge David Shults. “I just woke up today and I was in jail. I’m sorry to the community and everybody here.”
Muller, 27, was arraigned Wednesday morning on charges of carjacking, theft over $10,000, felony evading arrest, reckless endangerment, assault on a police officer and criminal impersonation.
In Johnson City he’s charged with aggravated robbery, theft over $1,000 and criminal impersonation and has a $61,000 bond. That warrant had not been served on Muller as of late Wednesday.
According to a Johnson City police report, Muller went inside La Perla III restaurant on South Roan Street and asked if they cashed income tax checks, but the clerk said they did not.
Muller apparently went outside, but returned to the store, asked for some grocery items and went to collect them.
He returned to the register and paid for his groceries. When the clerk closed the register, Muller “pulled something from his pocket and protruded it towards her under his shirt. He stated, ‘Give me all the money in the register or I’ll shoot you.’ ”
Muller ran out of the store, got into a Chevrolet Sonic — which had been stolen in Unicoi County March 8 — and sped away, police said.
According to the affidavit of complaint written by Erwin Police Detective Tony Buchanan, Unicoi County officials spotted the vehicle in the county after an alert was issued by Johnson City. The report states Maj. Bill Rogers of the Erwin Police Department pulled the car over near Exit 37 of Interstate 26.
As Rogers walked toward the vehicle to take Muller into custody, Muller pulled out at a “high rate of speed,” spinning Rogers around, knocking him to the ground and causing an injury to his head, the report states.
The report states the chase continued onto several residential streets before turning onto Norton Hollow Road, where Muller bailed out of the vehicle he was driving and ran into a wooded area.
“When Mr. Muller fled from the vehicle he left the car out of gear and it rolled downhill and hit a law enforcement vehicle causing damage to both vehicles,” Buchanan’s report states. “The passenger, Abigail Scott, was hit with the open door as the vehicle rolled downhill. Mr. Muller placed all three passengers in danger as well as law enforcement officers and citizens of the community by his reckless disregard.”
Officials said Tuesday that officers from the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department, Erwin Police Department, Johnson City Police Department and Tennessee Highway Patrol assisted in the search for Muller. UCSD K-9s and the THP’s helicopter were also utilized in the search.
Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said Tuesday that officials searched the wooded area for around 90 minutes before a deputy found an unclothed Muller attempting to camouflage himself under a pile of leaves.
Muller allegedly provided Unicoi County jail staff with an alias after he was taken into custody. Two children in the car during the pursuit were placed with the Department of Children’s Services, and Scott, 24, of Hampton, Va., was also arrested. According to the EPD, Scott had warrants from another state, and she was charged by Erwin police with child endangerment and criminal impersonation.
Scott was also arraigned Wednesday in Sessions Court.
EPD Chief Regan Tilson said the two children in the vehicle, ages 10 and 8 according to Buchanan’s report, are still in DCS custody. Tilson said Muller is the children’s father.
Muller was being held in a $100,000 bond and Scott has a $10,000 bond. They both have hearings scheduled in Unicoi County today.
Muller will be transported to Washington County to faces the robbery charge after the Unicoi County charges are settled.