McCrabb: Consequences of teen’s split-second actions leave pain, questions

Lives were forever changed in a matter of seconds, the time it took a teen to pull a trigger several times.

Joseph Davis, a 17-year-old Marshall High School student, was gunned down on May 29 near Woodlawn Avenue and Garfield Street, and a 16-year-old junior at Middletown High School was charged with murder and participating in a criminal gang, said Middletown Maj. Scott Reeve.

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Now, less than two weeks after the killing, the family of the deceased is collecting donations for his funeral expenses and the family of the boy who allegedly fired the deadly shots is wondering if he’ll be charged as an adult. Later this month, Butler County Judge Kathleen Romans will hear a probably case hearing and if she finds probable cause that the teen committed the shooting, the case will automatically be moved to adult court, according to Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser.

If the teen is convicted in adult court, he could be sentenced to 18 years to life in prison, meaning he could be 35 or older when he’s released.

What were you doing the summer after your 16th birthday? Working part-time? Saving money for a car? Waiting for the pool to open?

Or praying you weren’t tried as an adult?

Whenever we write about these tragic stories, and believe me, they happen everywhere, people always ask: “What was that person thinking?”

Typically, they weren’t thinking about the consequences of their split-second actions. If the teen in this shooting could have hit a pause button, do you think he would have pulled the trigger if he knew he would be arrested, charged and facing years in prison?

Hours after her son was shot and killed, I talked with his mother, Quartura Davis, on the porch of her Middletown home. Her son took his last breath just a few blocks away.

She made one thing clear: “I just want justice for my son. That’s all.”

No amount of justice will bring her son back or replace that hole in her heart.

Joseph Davis enrolled in Marshall High School in January 2018 after his family moved to Middletown from Detroit, according to Chuck Hall, the school’s principal. Hall described Joseph as “a quiet young man.”

Hall called the teen’s death “a senseless act” and said the staff at Marshall was trying to deal with the student’s death.

Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw called it “an awful, tragic shooting” on his Facebook page.

He said two families were impacted as a result of two young people who wanted to be “something they shouldn’t have been.” Violence is never the answer, he wrote.

Police said the shooting may have been the result of two groups feuding over territory.

“So now two families tore up forever,” Muterspaw wrote. “And for what? I feel horrible for the families.”

Ironically, these families moved to Middletown looking for better lives and safer surroundings. Instead, they became key figures in the city’s first homicide of the year.

When the teen appeared in Butler County Juvenile Court for his arraignment, his ankles were shackled, his face was down. Just the sight of him made his mother, who was sitting with her mother in the back of the courtroom, weep. When the short hearing ended, the teen was led back to the Juvenile Detention Center.

As he walked by, his mother said she loved him.

In the coming days, there will be a funeral, probably a prayer vigil and a balloon release. After all these street violence, we know the drill. But what’s next? How will the community react to this latest shooting?

Will we remember Joseph Davis as the one who lost his life or the one who changed our lives?

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