It’s been more than two years since the fatal Kettering shooting of a Fairmont High School student, leading to adult murder charges against another Kettering teen in a trial set to start Monday, Nov. 5.
Kylen Jamal Gregory, 18, faces two counts of murder and related charges stemming from the Sept. 4, 2016 shooting of 16-year-old Ronnie Bowers, who died two days later in what was ruled the city’s first gun-related homicide since 2007.
Witnesses said the shooting of Bowers happened on a busy Willowdale Avenue, a few blocks away from AlterFest, an event both the victim and the defendant had left minutes before in separate groups.
The case has taken a number of twists and turns in the past 26 months. Here’s a summary of how the case got here:
Sept. 4: A shooting is reported around 9 p.m. in the 800 block of Willowdale. Police call the victim – later identified as Bowers – an “innocent bystander” shot in the head in what they described as an ongoing “beef” 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.
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 – now 17 and 15 - 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 17- and 15-year-olds 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 17- and 15-year-olds to maximum sentences, possibly both serving in juvenile custody until they are 21. Capizzi said the 17-year-old was in a position to prevent the shooting and the 15-year-old showed no remorse. Yet Capizzi said he found the teens’ testimony credible and schedules amenability hearing for Gregory.
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 ask for continuance until October.
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 attorney 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 list that prospective witnesses that includes 124 names, more than 60 of whom have been subpoenaed.
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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