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Ross Twp. teen pleads guilty in fatal shooting of fellow student

A Ross High School student pleaded guilty Tuesday to the robbery and shooting death of a fellow student in January.

Zachary Welsh, 17, who was to be tried as an adult for killing fellow student Austin Hensley, pleaded guilty today to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated robbery and two counts of tampering with evidence for the fatal shooting on Jan 30 at his Hine Road home.

Welsh will receive a sentence of 30 years in prison by agreement of both the prosecution and the defense.

He was originally charged with murder, as well as aggravated robbery, felonious assault and tampering with evidence.

MORE: Ross Twp. teen charged in fatal shooting pleads insanity

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Welsh met with his parents and his attorney before entering the plea in Butler County Common Pleas Court. He answered the judge’s questions, but made no other statements.

Judge Greg Stephens set sentencing for Nov. 6 so that Hensley’s family members will have an opportunity to speak.

Hensley was found in a house with a shotgun laying against his temple. He died of one shot to the head, and police later learned the shotgun was not loaded.

During questioning by Butler County Sheriff’s detectives, Welsh said he intended to rob Hensley of the shotgun, but when he went to “pistol whip” the teen, the gun went off. Welsh said he then wiped down the gun, washed his hands and stashed the .38-caliber in a hole in a closet of another room.

MORE: Attorney wants second regarding Ross Twp. teen charged with murder

Defense attorney Richard Hyde questioned Welsh’s competency to stand trial, stating he has a form of autism. But after two forensic psychological evaluations the judge determined the teen was competent for trial.

Hyde also filed a motion to suppress statements Welsh made to law enforcement, claiming Welsh’s Miranda rights were violated.

Last month, Stephens denied that motion. stating Welsh’s rights were not violated and were voluntary.

The defense also filed a not guilty by reason of insanity plea for Welsh, but Hyde said he would be withdrawing that plea.

Because of Welsh’s age and the seriousness of the crime, the case was a mandatory relinquishment to adult court.

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