Judge delays hearing in Warren County teen murder case

Hearings expected to decide whether four teens would be tried as adults in a Warren County murder case have been delayed in response to orders issued in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, Judge Joe Kirby delayed the key juvenile court hearings for four of five defendants in the case stemming from the fatal shooting of Mason N. Trudics, 18, of Centerville, in December at home outside Lebanon.

RELATED: Legal process slowed for teens in murder, robbery case

In light of the orders in response to COVID-19 concerns, “we expected that to happen,” Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said.

Jackson Pelphrey, 16, of Centerville; Kayla Carmack, 17, of Turtlecreek Twp., Warren County; and Jacob Hicks and Logan Dean, both 16, of Washington Twp., Montgomery County; are charged in the Warren County Juvenile Court with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and conspiracy. They remain in the juvenile detention center.

A fifth suspect, Dakota Cox, 18, of Washington Twp., Montgomery County, has already been indicted in Warren County Common Pleas Court on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, conspiracy, tampering with evidence and possession of criminal tools in connection with the case. He remains in the adult jail in the county government complex in Lebanon.

The five teens are all charged in the fatal shooting of Trudics during an alleged attempted robbery of marijuana from an unidentified person that authorities allege shot Trudics in self-defense on Dec. 13 outside Carmack’s home on Oregonia Road.

The hearing for Dean, badly wounded in a shootout outside Carmack’s home, was set for Monday.

The hearing for Carmack, alleged to have planned the botched robbery that resulted in Trudics’ fatal shooting, was set for Wednesday

The hearing for Hicks, who along with Cox claims to have left the scene before the shooting started, was scheduled for Friday.

Pelphrey, who was arrested later, was never scheduled for the hearing deciding whether he would face charges in the adult court.

“Due to the unprecedented strain on court resources at this time, it is not possible to get the case heard within any speedy trial time period required,” Kirby said in the orders filed Wednesday morning.

The four juveniles “may have no communication amongst themselves regarding the pending charges and all aspects thereof,” Kirby wrote. “The Court will consult with counsel when a new date is going to be set.”

RELATED: Teens charged in Warren County murder one hearing from adult court

Fornshell said he still expected all five cases to be bound over to the adult court and the teens to face murder charges, while acknowledging the different roles alleged.

“Legally, they’re all equally culpable,” Fornshell said.

Pelphrey’s lawyer, Patrick Mulligan, declined to say where Pelphrey was but indicated Pelphrey, like Hicks and Cox, had abandoned the plan at the time of the fatal shooting.

“The hearing has great meaning. We don’t think its going to be a cakewalk for the government,” Mulligan said.

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