Two Kettering teens involved in the fatal shooting of a Fairmont High School junior may be locked up until they turn 21 after a judge said they were “lucky” the law restricts their punishment.
Judge Anthony Capizzi told the 17-year-old Wednesday the teen could have stopped the homicide of Ronnie Bowers III and lectured the 15-year-old that he showed no remorse for his role in a killing the victim's mother said has "forever broken" and "haunted" her family.
The two - who got the maximum sentences Capizzi said juvenile court allows him to hand down - accepted plea deals for being key witnesses in the murder charges against Kylen Jamal Gregory. Gregory is a 16-year-old prosecutors want to try as an adult for the Sept. 4 shooting near AlterFest.
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“You didn’t pull the trigger,” Capizzi told the older defendant. “But you started the whole chain of events.
“You knew he had a gun,” the judge said later, noting the defendant “knew someday that gun was going to be used….You did nothing to stop that from happening.“
Capizzi told the 15-year-old “I don’t ever see you showing any remorse.”
The 17-year-old will serve at least six months in the Center for Adolescent Services, Capizzi said, after a plea agreement in which he admitted in November to two counts of felony tampering with evidence, and one count each of misdemeanor assault and aggravated menacing.
The 15-year-old was given a similar term after his November deal with prosecutors in which he admitted to one count each of felony tampering with evidence, and misdemeanor assault and aggravated menacing. Both may be locked up until they turn 21, Capizzi said.
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The sentencings followed statements from the victim's father – Ronnie Bowers Jr. – and his mother – Jessica Combs, who pushed for maximum punishments in the shooting that claimed the life of her 16-year-old son, who died Sept. 6 from what was ruled a homicide.
Her son “never got that chance to experience any of the things that so many young people look forward to – graduating high school, falling in love, having kids,” she said. “He would have been a great father.
“He was polite, kind and respectful to everyone he ever met,” she said.
Combs said the night of Sept. 4 was the first time she allowed her son to take his used Lexus out with friends. Police and prosecutors called Bowers III an innocent bystander who was shot in the back of the head shortly before 9 p.m. on Willowdale Avenue.
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The shooting occurred shortly after leaving AlterFest with three other friends to escape a “beef” between the passenger in his car and the teen defendants’ group, according to Monday testimony from the 17- and 15-year-olds.
Both said on Monday their group of five tracked Bowers’ Lexus down in the 800 block of Willowdale and all of them exited and approached the vehicle parked in a driveway, where “there was supposed to be a fight,” the 15-year-old said.
Both witnesses said they and the driver walked up to the passenger side door - which was locked – before Bowers’ reversed out of the driveway. As Bowers drove away, the 17-year-old said he heard a gunshot and immediately looked back in the direction of the sound and saw Gregory holding a “gun (that) was pointed to the back of the (Bowers) car.”
The 15-year-old said saw Gregory fire the weapon. “I seen a flash” and Bowers’ car started “swerving and went into a driveway and nearly hit a house.”
The teens said Gregory showed them a gun prior to the shooting – on social media and in person. The older teen said Gregory showed him a gun through Instagram and FaceTime and later at Katner Park in Kettering before going to AlterFest. The younger witness also said Gregory had a gun in his waistband at the park prior to the festival.
After the shooting - once they learned that someone had been shot on Willowdale - the 17-year-old said Gregory gave him the gun to hide because “Kylen’s father is strict” and Gregory would likely face strong consequences if his father discovered a gun.
A short time later, the older teen said he wiped the gun clean and hid it in a laundry room waste can at his apartment building, where Kettering Detective David Marcum testified Monday that he found it.