Alleged Johnson City robber's assault charge on Erwin officer upgraded to felony

Brad Hicks • Mar 21, 2013 at 4:42 PM

ERWIN - Ariel Muller, who is facing multiple charges after he allegedly led area authorities on a vehicle pursuit Tuesday after robbing a Johnson City restaurant, again appeared in Unicoi County General Sessions Court on Thursday.

Following his arrest in Unicoi County at around 3 p.m. Tuesday, Muller, 27, was charged by the Erwin Police Department with carjacking, reckless endangerment, assault on a police officer and criminal impersonation. Muller was arraigned Wednesday in Sessions Court, where he applied for representation from the public defender's office and Judge David Shults set a $100,000 bond.

At Muller's hearing on Thursday, Shults appointed attorney Chad Cash to represent Muller, as Muller had already spoken with Cash about his case. Assistant District Attorney General Fred Lance also upgraded one of Muller's charges. The charge of assault on a police officer, a Class A misdemeanor, was upgraded to the felony charge of aggravated assault. Lance said this is because Muller allegedly used what could be considered a deadly weapon - a vehicle - to carry out the assault.

Muller is scheduled to next appear in Unicoi County General Sessions Court on May 2.

In Johnson City, Muller has been charged with aggravated robbery, theft over $1,000 and criminal impersonation. He will be transported to Washington COunty to faces these charges after the Unicoi County charges are settled.

According to a report from Johnson City Police, Muller entered the La Perla III restaurant on South Roan Street on Tuesday afternoon. Once Muller paid for grocery items from the business and the clerk had closed the register, Muller "pulled something from his pocket and protruded it towards her under his shirt," the report states.

"He stated, 'Give me all the money in the register or I'll shoot you,'" the report states.

Muller fled from the store and got into a Chevrolet Sonic, which had been reported as stolen from the Erwin area on March 8, and sped away, according to officials.

According to a report from the Erwin Police Department, Unicoi County officials spotted the vehicle after an alert was issued out of Johnson City. The report states Maj. Bill Rogers stopped the vehicle near Exit 37 of Interstate 26. As Rogers walked toward the vehicle to take Muller into custody, he pulled out at a "high rate of speed," spinning Rogers around, knocking him to the ground and causing an injury to his head, according to the report.

Officials said the vehicle pursuit continued through several residential streets before turning onto Norton Hollow Road, where Muller bailed out of the vehicle and ran into a nearby wooded area.

Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley previously said officials from multiple agencies searched the area for around 90 minutes before a Unicoi County 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 the adult female passenger, Abigail Scott, 24, of Hampton, Va., was also arrested. According to Erwin police, Scott had warrants from another state, and she has been charged by Erwin police with criminal impersonation and tampering with evidence.

Like Muller, Scott was arraigned Wednesday in Unicoi County Sessions Court, where Shults set a $10,000 bond. She also appeared in Sessions Court on Thursday, and Shults appointed the public defender's office to represent her. Scott is scheduled to next appear in Unicoi County General Sessions Court on April 4.

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