Teen defendant in ‘drug deal gone bad’ murder will stay incarcerated

A 16-year-old Middletown boy accused of fatally shooting a Loveland man on Dec. 8 will remain incarcerated until his next court hearing in January.

The teen was in Butler County Juvenile Court before Judge Ronald Craft on Thursday. He walked in shackled and said nothing during the short hearing. He is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence.

A probable cause hearing was set for Jan. 25. The judge ordered the teen to stay in the county juvenile detention center until that hearing.

FIRST REPORT: Middletown boy, 16, charged with murder after drug deal ‘gone wrong’

The 16-year-old is charged with shooting and killing Stephan Cotter, 22, of Loveland, in what police have described as a drug deal gone bad.

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The teen is charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly throwing the gun used in the shooting in the river, and a burglary charge for a previous incident on Yankee Road. In addition, he is charged with a probation violation and was a runaway at the time of shooting.

The burglary charge stems from an incident in October when the teen is accused of kicking in the back door of a residence and stealing guns, a television and food.

MORE: Second teen charge with Middletown shooting death

According to juvenile court records, the teen said he got into a parked vehicle in front of a residence on Pear Street to purchase marijuana and Xanax.

“The (teen) admitted to robbing this subject and pulling a gun out on them. (The teen) said he got into a physical confrontation … stated he shot the passenger (of the car) and then fled on foot,” according to the complaint.

Last week after the teen’s arraignment, Traci Combs-Valerio, an attorney who has represented the teen’s mother and step-father, released the following statement: “The minor child is in need of mental health treatment and possibly medications that could significantly help his behaviors. The family is deeply saddened by the allegations and charges levied against the minor child and continue to pray for healing for the victim and his family. The family would like to ask for privacy during this difficult time.”

The teen’s mother does not have custody of him, according to Combs-Valerio.

“While (mother) had custody of the minor child, they began him in mental health treatment at the age of 6,” Combs-Valerio said in a statement to this news outlet. “After years of therapy, careful consideration, and the consideration of safety issues for mother and her other family members still in the home, she allowed the father to take legal custody of the minor child at age 11.”

The co-defendant in the case, Keegan Payne, 19, of Midldletown, who is charged with murder and aggravated robbery, was in Middletown Municipal court Wednesday, and his case was bound over to a Butler County grand jury for consideration following a preliminary hearing. Payne is being held on 1.25 million bond.

Cotter was transported to Miami Valley Hospital, where he died, according to Middletown Police Lt. Scott Reeve.

Cotter and the teen met on Facebook, and the teen arranged to buy marijuana and other drugs from Cotter near Cherry Street and Lawn Avenue, police said.

MORE: 35 people indicted in Butler, Warren counties

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