Kettering Fairmont teen murder case: 4 issues to know as trial nears

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Two teens who testified against the accused shooter in the Kettering homicide of a Fairmont High School junior received maximum sentences Wednesday.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The trial of a Kettering teen accused of murdering a Fairmont High School student in 2016 is scheduled for May.

If the trial of 17-year-old Kylen Gregory goes forward this spring in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, it will begin about 20 months after the deadly shooting of Ronnie Bowers.

Authorities and witnesses said Gregory fatally shot the 16-year-old Bowers while the victim attempted to drive away from a confrontation on Willowdale Avenue shortly after leaving AlterFest.

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Bowers died Sept. 6, 2016, two days later, just after hours after Gregory and two other teens were initially charged in juvenile court. It was Kettering’s first gun-related homicide since 2007.

Here are four issues to know about this case:

•Higher court rulings caused delays. Transferring the case to adult court took about nine months. Adult charges were initially sought in October 2016 before being granted in July 2017. Two Ohio Supreme Court rulings impacted the pace of this case.

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Gregory’s case appeared to be headed for a mandatory transfer to adult court before a December 2016 a supreme court decision. That ruling required a longer process and gave judges greater discretion in moving cases to adult court.

As hearings were held in the spring of 2017 under the new transfer standard, the state supreme court – at the urging of the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office – reversed its December 2016 ruling. That decision reverted the standards of juvenile transfers to adult court to where they were when Bowers was killed.

•More attorneys came after adult charges were approved. After the Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi granted the transfer to adult court, defense attorney Benjamin Swift brought in the high-profile firm of Rion & Rion as co-counsel.

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•Restricted access. Judge Dennis Langer restricted digital viewing of court records and has limited recordings of media covering the case. Only court personnel, the defendant and certain witnesses testifying can be recorded, court records show. Media representatives are not permitted to record "anything other than the court proceedings from the courtroom while court is in session."

Court restrictions. The container holding Bowers' remains and other displays of support will be prohibited at trial, Langer has ruled. However, "spectator displays during pretrial proceedings" will not impact Gregory's right to a fair trial. The urn holding Bowers' ashes became an issue last year in juvenile court hearing. Bowers' relatives and friends also wore shirts that featured images of him.

RELATED: Two teens sentenced for role in Kettering homicide of Fairmont student

Search warrant issues.Langer is expected to rule on a motion to suppress key evidence against Gregory. His attorneys contend evidence collected after the shooting violated the defendant's rights.

But prosecutors say the DNA, fingerprints, evidence from cell phones and telephone records were obtained because “probable cause existed for the issuance of these warrant(s) and the search warrants were properly issued.”

Kettering resident Kylen Gregory, 17, faces a trial next month on adult murder charges for the 2016 shooting death of Fairmont High School student Ronnie Bowers. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF
Caption
Kettering resident Kylen Gregory, 17, faces a trial next month on adult murder charges for the 2016 shooting death of Fairmont High School student Ronnie Bowers. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

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