Middletown teen will be charged in mall shooting

A 16-year-old Middletown boy will be charged in connection with an attempted robbery of Air Jordan shoes that ended with the fatal shooting of another juvenile outside the Dayton Mall in December, a Montgomery County Juvenile Court judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Nick Kuntz found probable cause that the boy was culpable in the death of 16-year-old Jawaad Jabbar, who brandished a gun in an attempted armed robbery of an adult. The adult, a valid concealed carry permit holder, drew his own weapon and fired a shot that killed Jabbar. The adult shooter was cleared of any wrongdoing. The newspaper is not identifying him because he’s a victim.

Under Ohio law, an individual is culpable for any death that happens during the commission of a robbery, including the death of an accomplice. The teen, who is not being named unless he is bound over to adult court after a March 3 amenability hearing, is being charged with involuntary manslaughter and robbery.

“This defendant should be tried as an adult for his part in the robbery and shooting death of his accomplice,” Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said in a press release. “Juveniles, working together to rob patrons at gunpoint, in broad daylight at a crowded shopping mall, in order to steal a pair of athletic shoes is simply outrageous. We will not tolerate this type of activity in our community.”

Kuntz heard testimony on Tuesday from the teen, his 17-year-old friend who was cleared of charges from the same incident, a Miami Twp. police officer and one alleged victim. The hearing including surveillance footage along with arguments from prosecutors and defense attorney L. Patrick Mulligan.

Contradictory testimony was given about whether or not the teen grabbed at one of the victims’ shopping bags or simply made a “ripping” football-style move to get past the victim and not run into a column.

“Finding probable cause means something just slightly over a hunch. So, the standard is virtually meaningless,” Mulligan said Thursday. “It doesn’t change my analysis of the case in any way, shape or form. He’s innocent and we’re going to trial.”

First Take (Jan. 28):

Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Nick Kuntz said on Tuesday said he will at a later date on whether or not there is probable cause that a 16-year-old Middletown boy should be charged with involuntary manslaughter and robbery in connection with the fatal shooting of a teen in December at the Dayton Mall.

Kuntz saw surveillance footage from the scene, heard testimony from the teen himself, plus multiple other witnesses and arguments from prosecutors Daniel Brandt and Julie Bruns, and defense attorney L. Patrick Mulligan. The surveillance video shown was obstructed by several columns.

Contradictory testimony was given about whether or not the teen grabbed at one of the victims’ shopping bags or simply made a “ripping” football-style move to get past the victim and not run into a column near the entrance to the mall.

The teen, appearing in court with an orange shirt, blue pants and no shoes, testified that he didn’t know Jawaad Jabbar was planning to rob someone for the new Air Jordan shoes that were released Dec. 20, 2014. “I was scared,” said the boy, who has been in custody since that day.

Jabbar, 16, of Middletown, was shot and killed by a man who held a concealed carry permit. Prosecutors did not bring charges against the man because they determined he acted in self defense. Under Ohio law, anyone who is involved in the commission of a robbery is culpable of any death that occurs during the commission of the crime. The newspaper is not identifying the man because he’s a victim.

“To expand this to others is an abuse of government,” Mulligan said to Kuntz. “It’s just an example of government overreaching. It’s certainly not justice. It’s a ridiculous extension of made-up facts.”

A 17-year-old teen, who saw charges dropped against stemming from the same incident but could face them again, testified that the defendant — his friend and fellow Middletown High School football player — ran and didn’t try to take any bags. The 17-year-old said he went back home to Middletown and didn’t talk to police when they arrived.

The victim testified that after Jabbar pulled out a gun, Jabbar said, “I need it all.” The victim also said the shopping bags were ripped from his hands so hard that the plastic handles broke.

The victim said he and the man who shot Jabbar both had lottery-type tickets needed to buy the new Air Jordans while the defendant and his 17-year-old friend testified they didn’t have such tickets, but had hoped to buy some after the initial sale was over.

“The only ripping that was done, your Honor, was exactly that, ripping the bags out of this gentleman’s hands in an attempt to assist his friend in a robbery,” Brandt said.

Kuntz did not say when he would issue his written ruling.

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