A Butler County grand jury will consider the cases of two men charged in the shooting death of a Middletown man who was killed last month while sitting in his car on Ninth Ave.
Security was heightened on Wednesday in Middletown Municipal Court during hearings for Quanterius Keith, accused of pulling the trigger, and Dwight Bailey III, accused of conspiring in the murder.
As many as 12 police officers ringed the the room filled with family, some wearing shirts picturing Benny Barefield, 48, who was killed on Dec. 14. Keith was kept in a hold area of the courtroom and was not permitted to sit at the defense table near spectators during the hearing.
Keith, 21, is charged with aggravated murder, tampering with evidence, having weapons under disability and participating in a criminal gang for allegedly shooting Barefield to death as he sat in his red Buick Lucerne. According to court documents, Keith is a known member of the Road Runners gang.
Bailey III, 21, of Middletown, was charged with complicity to aggravated murder and aggravated robbery, which is in relation to a separate incident on Oct. 23 during which a pedestrian was robbed of his cell phone at gun point. According to court documents, police say Bailey conspired with known Road Runners gang members to kill Barefield.
Middletown Detective Kristi Hughes said she responded to a report of shots fired late on Dec. 14 and found Barefield dead in his car after hitting a pole at the corner of Yankee Road and Ninth Avenue.
Hughes said cameras surrounding Barefield house captured the homicide.
Barefield is in front of his house on the phone when a white car passes. Minutes later, Barefield exits the car, looks toward Main Street, then gets back in the car with his phone.
“At 10:26 p.m. it shows a individual coming behind his vehicle approach the driver’s side, shoot three rounds into the vehicle and run back in the direction he came from toward the alley,” Hughes said during testimony.
During questioning by Keith’s defense attorney, Hughes said the shooter wearing sweat pants and a sweat shirt with the hood up is not recognizable on the video.
Hughes said two days later she received tips naming Keith, as well as others, as the shooter of Barefield, but the investigation pointed to Keith. She said the investigation also indicates Bailey, a 17-year-old boy and Daniel Fitzgerald were in the car.
When questioned by police, Keith denied being in Middletown until the early morning hours of Dec. 15, when he visited some bars.
“He said he had been in Hamilton shooting a video (before coming to Middletown),” Hughes said.
Judge James Sherron found sufficient evidence to bind the case over to a grand jury. Bailey waived his right to a preliminary hearing on both charges and the cases were automatically sent to grand jury.
After the hearing, Barefield’s aunt, Kimberly Silas, said she wants justice.
“My nephew was a good person, everyone has a past, every saint has a past, every sinner has a future,” she said. “It is not about your resume, it is about your relationship. My nephew did not deserve this, he took a bullet and I want justice.”
The 17-year-old charged with conspiracy and participating in a criminal gang is scheduled to be back in Butler County Juvenile Court later this month. Police are still looking for Fitzgerald, who is wanted for conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and participating in a criminal gang.