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Dad facing gun charge in 2-year-old’s death has long criminal history

The 2-year-old Harrison Twp. boy reportedly shot by his 13-year-old brother was wounded by a firearm his 34-year-old father should not have possessed due to his prior convictions, the Dayton Daily News found in a review of Jamahl Evans’ background.

Evans faces a charge in federal court of being a felon in possession of a firearm after his son, Jvontae Johnston, died Monday afternoon. Another child, a 13-year-old boy, faces a reckless homicide charge in Montgomery County Juvenile Court.

Relatives remembered Jvontae — who they called JV or Little Man — as a young, curious boy who loved SpongeBob SquarePants and balloons.

“I know he would have loved school,” said Krislanae Johnston, his sister.

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When deputies responded to the house on the 2500 block of Wheeler Avenue where Jvontae died, they recovered two handguns and marijuana ready for distribution, said Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer.

It wasn’t the first time authorities ran into Evans. Plummer hopes it will be the last.

“It’s unfortunate because this guy is a convicted felon, should not have possession of a gun at all, and we end up losing a young person in our community,” Plummer said. The federal charge, he said, is aimed at ensuring Evans serves a long prison sentence.

Prison, drugs and ‘odd jobs’

While six months pregnant in 2002, the then-15-year-old mother of the accused teen told police Evans, 18, threw her on the ground, choked, hit and kicked her, according to a Dayton police incident report. The girlfriend was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, according to police. Evans was charged with domestic violence, but was found guilty of disorderly conduct, according to Dayton Municipal Court records. He was sentenced to probation, anger management and 40 hours of community service.

The next year, police found Evans in his basement hiding next to a waterbed as Dayton medics transported the same girlfriend back to Good Samaritan Hospital, according to an incident report. There, at the hospital, the woman told police Evans punched, kicked and choked her, then pushed her hand through a door’s glass pane, according to the report. Evans was charged in Dayton Municipal Court with domestic violence and assault. Both charges were dismissed, according to court records.

In 2005, a different girlfriend’s sister told police Evans assaulted her. The sister alleged Evans attacked her because “she was trying to prevent him from attacking her sister,” according to a Dayton police incident report. He was found guilty of disorderly conduct after an assault charge was withdrawn, according to court records. He was sentenced to one day of jail time, which was credited with time already served, and sent back to anger management and probation.

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In 2006, following a secret indictment, Evans went to prison after being found guilty of felony drug trafficking and possession of criminal tools in Greene County Common Pleas Court. The trafficking charge carried a mandatory prison sentence of three years, according to court records.

In 2013, Evans pleaded guilty to two felony counts of assaulting a police officer and one count of possession of heroin. According to a Dayton police report, Evans ran from a traffic stop and threw punches at officers who tried to handcuff him before they Tased him several times. He was sent back to prison on a 12-month sentence, with credit for 151 days served, according to court records.

Evans filed bankruptcy in 2015, seeking protection from $30,000 in liabilities, including $16,000 in student loans. He reported an estimated annual income of $4,200 — just $350 a month from “odd jobs.”

In September, Evans pleaded guilty to two felony counts of having weapons while under disability. One count was related to a prior violent offense, the other for a prior drug conviction, according to court records. He also pleaded guilty to a felony charge of cocaine possession. Evans was sentenced to five years of community control and as part of his sanctions was required to surrender two weapons: a .45-caliber Sig Sauer and a .25-caliber FIE.

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In April, Evans’ probation status was lowered from intensive to basic.

“During his period of intensive supervision, Jamahl Evans has made positive strides in working toward the completion of his sanctions of supervision,” said a court document ordering the modification.

He returned to a courtroom this week. Wearing Montgomery County Jail blues, Evans hunched over the podium and told Rice it was because of bad sciatica when the judge asked Evans if could stand up straight.

Evans was shackled before U.S. Marshals led him out of the courtroom.

Leniency likely for teen

Investigators said they don’t believe the 13-year-old charged with reckless homicide intended to shoot his brother. The newspaper is not naming the charged juvenile at this time.

“Here’s another case, we have a 13-year-old, as any kid’s curious when they find a gun and unfortunately – he even admitted, he’s curious — checking a gun out that discharges and kills a 2-year-old,” Plummer said.

Tom Hagel, University of Dayton School of Law professor emeritus, said the charge indicates “he didn’t intend to bring about a bad result.”

“He didn’t specifically intend to hurt anybody, but he engaged in some sort of activity that created a substantial risk of harm to somebody else,” Hagel said.

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Staff Writer Mark Gokavi and News Center 7 reporter Sean Cudahy contributed reporting.