Man accused in deadly Walmart shooting now held without bond

A man accused of firing shots inside a Fairfield Twp. Walmart resulting in the death of a customer and injuries to one worker will be held without bond by agreement of the defense and prosecutors. This is until a forensic psychological evaluation is completed.

Anthony F. Brown, 32, of Hamilton, was back in court Tuesday for a third bond hearing since his arrest a day after the May 26 crime. A $5 million bond was set in lower court during video arraignment on the initial charges. That amount was reduced last week to $900,000 when Brown was arraigned by Butler County Common Pleas Magistrate Ronald James following his June 2 indictment for aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery, felonious assault and having weapons under disability.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser took issue with the bond, saying it is not enough and noting public safety is at stake if Brown is able to post bond.

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Gmoser said the magistrate followed an Ohio Supreme Court ruling in which the high court determined that tying financial ability to a bond can be excessive and unconstitutional, but there can be a hearing to determine the safety concerns independent of financial ability.

Gmoser requested Tuesday’s bond hearing Judge Dan Haughey, who will preside over the case.

In addition to a not guilty plea, defense attorney Clyde Bennett III has filed a “not guilty by reason of insanity” plea on Brown’s behalf. He also questions his client’s competency to stand trial, meaning Brown is unable to assist in his own defense.

After the attorneys met in chambers, Assistant Prosecutor Katie Pridemore said during a brief hearing that Brown would be held without bond at this time.

Bennett agreed but said he reserves the right to address bond again.

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“Bond should be no bond because he has to be evaluated. So with respect to the present time, I am not going to object to the no bond,” Bennett said, added that may change after the forensic psychological evaluation is completed.

Brown is scheduled to be back in court July 26 for a competency hearing.

Bennett told the Journal-News last week after having conversations with Brown, “he did not appear to be mentally normal.”

“He could not assist me with my defense. He did not appear to be lucid. Therefore his competency is an issue,” Bennett said. “When I sat with him after the Walmart incident he could not assist in his defense. If you can’t tell me what happened and you don’t know what happened and this is all a mystery and a fog to you, well hell, how do I know you knew what happened when it happened?”

After the hearing, Bennett said the insanity plea is in no way an “admission to the facts in the case. It is a determination into where or not he was lucid when the allege he committed a crime.”

Brown was free on $200,000 bond at the time of the Walmart incident for an alleged armed robbery in Hamilton in October.

Brown, while allegedly trying to steal cellphones, is accused of shooting and killing Adam Black, 35, a Hamilton man who recently moved to the area and who just learned he was going to be a father. Brown is also accused of shooting and wounding Eric Ruff, 57, of Fairfield, a Walmart employee who has been released from the hospital and is recovering.

A SWAT team took Brown into custody at a Fairfield Inn in Middletown several hours after the shooting. Gmoser said the investigation is continuing, including how Brown got to the Middletown hotel after the shootings.

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