Ruling sends teen in deadly Kettering shooting to prison

Juvenile judge says 15 months not enough time to rehabilitate defendant, re-imposes 11-year term.

The mother of the teen Kylen Gregory said he fatally shot in 2016 said she has mixed feelings about a judge’s ruling to return the defendant’s case to adult court, where he has been sentenced to several years in prison.

“I’m happy that he’s going to serve as an adult,” Jessica Combs said of Gregory, who last year told jurors he shot her son, Ronnie Bowers, when both were 16. “But the adult sentence was just a slap on the wrist.”

Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi ruled late Wednesday afternoon the case of Gregory, 19, should return to adult court, in part, because “this court does not feel that 15 months is sufficient time to rehabilitate the defendant in the juvenile justice system…”

Keeping the case in the juvenile system would have freed Gregory in March of 2021, when he turns 21. In adult court, Common Pleas Court Judge Dennis Langer sentenced him to to 11 years minus time served.

The case returned to juvenile court because Gregory was not convicted of murder, a charge that prompted the transfer to adult court.

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Gregory has been in juvenile detention since just hours after Bowers, a Fairmont High School student called an innocent bystander, was shot Sept. 4, 2016, on Willowdale Avenue in Kettering. Gregory has been held on a $1 million bond.

The time remaining for Gregory’s opportunity for rehabilitation before he turns 21 was a key argument Assistant Prosecutor Lynda Dodd made in court and in later filings.

Capizzi made his decision “upon careful review of the available record, including the testimony of the witnesses and all the exhibits from the amenability hearing before this court, and the transcript of the trial before the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas General Division, the court hereby grants” the state’s motion for transfer, the ruling states.

County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. called the ruling “appropriate. We are pleased that the juvenile court judge transferred the defendant and re‐imposed the 11‐year sentence.”

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Attempts to reach defense attorneys late Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful.

Capizzi’s ruling came after a hearing in October and more than a year after a jury convicted Gregory of reckless homicide in the fatal shooting of Bowers. Gregory had said he didn’t know Bowers and had no dispute with him.

The shooting was Kettering’s first gun-related homicide since 2007. It followed an earlier dispute at AlterFest that involved neither the defendant nor the victim, court witnesses said.

Bowers was with three friends at AlterFest when they were approached by a group that included Gregory — who said he was armed with a stolen, loaded gun — and four others, court records show. One teen in Gregory’s group had a “beef” with one of Bowers’ friends, witnesses testified.

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Bowers and his friends sensed trouble and left AlterFest to avoid a confrontation, and Gregory’s group followed them to the victim’s car parked on Willowdale, court witnesses said.

After a series of hearings, Capizzi transferred the case to adult court in July 2017.

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At his trial in adult court in November 2018, Gregory testified he — without provocation from Bowers — aimed a loaded gun and fired at the victim’s car on Willowdale as Bowers sought to flee a confrontation.

Authorities said the shot hit Bowers in the head as he was sitting in the driver’s seat, and two days later he died from the wound.

In adult court, Gregory was indicted on two counts of murder, five counts of felonious assault and other charges. The jury found him guilty of reckless homicide and a gun-related charge, but was deadlocked on the felonious assault counts.

Facing a retrial on the felonious assault charges, Gregory this past spring pleaded guilty in a deal that came with a lighter sentence than he would have faced if convicted by a jury.

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