Ronnie Bowers

Judge OKs retrial in ‘complicated’ case of slain Kettering student

A judge has sided with prosecutors who want to retry a Kettering teen convicted as an adult on lesser charges in his murder trial for the 2016 death of a Fairmont High School student.

The ruling filed last week means the “complicated” case of Kylen Gregory will eventually return to juvenile court, where he could face a lighter sentence in the fatal shooting of Ronnie Bowers.

A jury in November found the 18-year-old Gregory guilty of two counts of reckless homicide and one count of discharging a firearm. It also found itself deadlocked on five felonious assault charges in what was Kettering’s first gun-related homicide since 2007.

After a retrial on the remaining felonious assault counts, Gregory would face sentencing on all charges for which he has been convicted – with that punishment being stayed while the case goes back to juvenile court, the decision by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Dennis Langer states.

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“Any sentence determined by this court will not be imposed unless and until the juvenile court transfers jurisdiction back to the general division,” according to Langer’s Jan. 9 ruling.

Langer’s decision is “consistent with the law,” said Gregory’s attorney, Jon Paul Rion, who wanted the felonious assault charges returned to juvenile court.

“This case has a complicated fact pattern,” he added. “You have a lesser included offense found by the jury, in addition to having a hung jury on other counts…This case creates some complications, but the ruling is accurate.”

The prosecutor’s office was “pleased that Judge Langer agreed with our position that the law is clear procedurally. The defendant should be sentenced in adult court before an amenability hearing in the juvenile court.”

In a Jan. 3 filing, prosecutors pushed to retry Gregory on felonious assault. “As with all cases, the state of Ohio and the defendant are entitled to resolution of the case by verdict on all counts,” court records state.

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“At this time all charges have not been resolved. Therefore, the next step must be to conclude the outstanding felonious assault charges,” according to the filing. “Only upon resolution of these remaining counts by conviction, acquittal, or dismissal will the case be ready for sentencing.”

Langer’s ruling was filed two months to the day after a jury of nine women and three men could not agree on two murder charges against Gregory, who did not know Bowers. The jury also found itself hung on five felonious assault counts facing Gregory.

The verdict upset Bowers’ family, with his mother, Jessica Combs, saying later: “Ronnie paid the ultimate price by losing his life.

“Myself – along with my family and friends – are the ones serving a life sentence,” she said. “Friday evening it felt like Ronnie died all over again. It rocked me back to Sept. 4, 2016.”

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Gregory and Bowers were both 16 when the defendant, according to his trial testimony, fired a shot Sept. 4, 2016 that authorities said resulted in the victim’s death.

The case was given a mandatory transfer from juvenile to adult court in 2017. Under Ohio law, mandatory transfers occur for older juveniles who commit murder, are repeat felony offenders or commit felonies with a firearm.

Gregory was indicted on — and pleaded not guilty to — two counts of murder, five counts of felonious assault and the firearms charge.

RELATED: Kettering murder case jury convicts teen on lesser charges

Because Gregory convicted of charges that did not require mandatory transfers to adult court, the case will return to juvenile court.

Since mid-2012, of the 77 juvenile local cases that have been mandatory transfers to adult court, only two others have returned to juvenile court, one court official has said.

Gregory could face as many as 17 years in prison if he is sentenced in adult court for the three counts for which the jury convicted him, Rion has said. Any sentence in juvenile court, a court official has said, would have him incarcerated in the Ohio Department of Youth Services until he turns 21, which would be in March 2021, court records show.

Gregory has been in juvenile detention since September 2016. He is being held on $1 million bond.

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