The court case involving the Kettering killing of a Fairmont High School student is set to enter its fourth year next week, and there’s no certainty yet how it will be resolved.
The case against Kylen Gregory in the shooting death of Ronnie Bowers has gone from juvenile court to adult court and is now back in juvenile court. But it may return to adult court yet again.
Gregory and Bowers were both 16 when the defendant said he fired a shot on Sept. 4, 2016, that authorities said killed the victim.
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Gregory was indicted on but pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder in adult court. Whether he will serve time in prison for the death of Bowers or be free on his 21st birthday may be decided this fall.
Gregory did not know Bowers, who was called an innocent bystander by investigators.
A Montgomery County Common Pleas Court jury in November 2018 found Gregory, now 19, guilty of reckless homicide and a gun-related offense. Facing a retrial on five felonious assault charges, Gregory later pleaded guilty to those counts to avoid more prison time if convicted of them.
A hearing in is set for October to determine if Gregory is amenable to juvenile rehabilitation or if the Kettering teen’s convictions will return to adult court, where he faces a sentence of 11 years minus time served.
Here’s a summary of how the case has reached this point:
•SEPT. 4: A shooting is reported around 9 p.m. in the 800 block of Willowdale Avenue in Kettering. Police call the victim – later identified as Bowers – an innocent bystander shot in the head in what they described as an ongoing dispute with other teens.
•SEPT. 5: Kettering Police Chief Chip Protsman said detectives would meet the next day with the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office seeking to charge the four male suspects — one 18-year-old, two 16-year-olds and one 14-year-old — with felonious assault and other charges related to the shooting. All four suspects live in Kettering.
•SEPT. 6: Felonious assault charges are among those filed against three males - two 16-year-olds and a 14-year-old – in the Bowers shooting. Later that day, Bowers dies. The 18-year-old, Miles Heizer, is not charged in the Bowers case.
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•OCT. 26: One of the 16-year-olds – Gregory - is charged with two counts of murder in Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi’s courtroom. County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said he would seek to try Gregory as an adult.
•NOV. 22: The two other teens – ages 16 and 14 both juveniles - charged in the Bowers homicide plead guilty to two counts of felony tampering with evidence and one count each of misdemeanor assault and aggravated menacing. As part of a sealed plea deal, the two agree to testify against Gregory.
•DEC. 22: The Ohio Supreme Court rules the mandatory transfer of juveniles to adult courts unconstitutional stemming from the 2014 conviction of Matthew Aalim. The ruling means Gregory will face a hearing to see if he is amenable to juvenile system.
•JAN. 30: The juveniles who agreed to the plea deal testify that Gregory fired a single shot at the rear of Bowers’ car as the victim attempted to flee from an altercation on Willowdale Sept. 4. Both witnesses said they approached Bowers’ car seeking a confrontation and both said after the shooting they handled the gun used in the homicide.
•FEB. 1: Capizzi sentences the convicted juveniles to maximum sentences, possibly both serving in juvenile custody until they are 21. Capizzi said the older one was in a position to prevent the shooting and the younger one showed no remorse. Yet Capizzi said he found the teens’ testimony credible and schedules amenability hearing for Gregory.
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•MARCH 7: Gregory turns 17 years old.
•MAY 24: Two psychologists come to different conclusions about whether or not Gregory should face adult charges. Several others testify – including a Willowdale resident – and Capizzi continues the hearing until July 7.
•MAY 25: The Ohio Supreme Court re-examines the Aalim case at the request of the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office. The court, which had two new members, reverses its December ruling, making the amenability hearing for Gregory moot.
•JUNE 1: Gregory’s attorney, Ben Swift, asks for co-counsel, bringing the high-profile firm of Rion, Rion & Rion L.P.A. Inc. on board as part of the defense team.
•JULY 20: Capizzi grants a prosecution request to try Gregory as an adult. While the teen is ordered to be held on a $1 million bond, he remains in juvenile detention, a standard practice for youths in custody who conduct themselves in an acceptable fashion. The case is then assigned to Judge Dennis Langer.
•AUG. 10: Gregory appears in adult court for the first time, pleading – through defense attorney John Rion – not guilty to all charges. The defense later asks for a continuance until October.
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•AUG. 17: Langer restricts both remote and direct access to public records in the case.
•OCT. 4: Langer lifts direct access ban to public records in the case. He also issues a ruling restricting media access in and around courtroom. Langer issues an order limiting court recordings to court personnel, the defendant and certain witnesses.
Additionally, Langer rules that an urn holding Bowers remains – which was brought inside a courtroom in January - is permitted in court leading up to the trial. However, the urn would not be allowed at trial as “this court agrees and will prohibit any and all displays in the courthouse and in the courtroom,” according to the ruling.
•OCT. 13: Gregory’s attorneys file documents to keep DNA, fingerprints, evidence from cell phones and telephone records from being admitted at trial. Langer later rules most of the items cited will be permitted at trial.
•DEC. 28: Langer schedules trial to start on May 7.
•MARCH 7: Gregory turns 18 years old.
•APRIL 19: Langer reaffirms trial date for May 7. Prosecutors file lists of prospective witnesses that includes 124 names, more than 60 of whom have been subpoenaed.
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•APRIL 24: A bill of information filed lists four charges – tampering with evidence, assault, aggravated menacing and contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child – against Miles Heizer. Heizer, witnesses testified earlier, was driving the car in which Gregory was a passenger on the night of Sept. 4, 2016. Heizer is in prison for an unrelated conviction
Langer signs documents limiting public access to the Heizer case after “balancing the public’s right to access public records with the defendant’s constitutional rights to a fair trial.”
•APRIL 25: Trial is put on hold “for reasons that were expressed to the court, in chambers with counsel for the state present” on April 23.
•MAY 17: Trial date rescheduled for Nov. 5.
•MAY 18: Heizer pleads guilty to tampering with the sentencing pending. A document about the plea is stamped “SEALED” in black type.
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•NOV. 5: Gregory’s trial begins. He is charged with two counts of murder, five counts of felonious assault and one count of discharging a firearm at or near a prohibited premise.
•NOV. 8: Gregory testifies he fired a shot at Bowers’ car “to send a signal” as the victim drove away from a confrontation. Court witnesses earlier said Gregory’s shot fatally wounded Bowers.
•NOV. 9: Langer instructs jury it can consider convicting on reckless homicide - a charge on which Gregory was not indicted. The jury convicts Gregory on reckless homicide and not murder.
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•NOV. 27: Defense attorneys seek to have Gregory’s case returned to juvenile court because he was not convicted of murder, a charge that prompted a mandatory transfer to adult court. Langer later agrees to send the case back after Gregory is sentenced for all counts he was convicted on in adult court.
•MARCH 7: Gregory turns 19.
•APRIL 23: Gregory pleads guilty to five felonious assault counts he was scheduled to be retried on in May. His attorneys say the move could save him 12 years in prison. Langer said his sentenced could be anywhere from six to 44 years.
•JUNE 13: Langer sentences Gregory to 11 years minus time served. Prosecutors sought at least 35 years for Gregory, who has been in custody since hours after the shooting. Bowers’ family wanted a maximum sentence of 41 years. The sentence is stayed while the case while the case returns to juvenile court.
•JUNE 26: Heizer, the driver of the car that Gregory sped away after shooting Bowers in sentenced. Serving a prison term on an unrelated charge, Heizer is given an additional two years.
•JULY 3: Capizzi sets an amenability hearing for Oct. 7-8.
-MORE COVERAGE ON THIS ISSUE:
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