YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — All charges but two against one of two defendants in the death of a 4-year-old Struthers boy were dismissed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Wednesday, but they will be refiled in juvenile court.
The move by Judge Anthony D’Apolito comes after attorneys for Brandon Crump, 18, filed a motion last month asking that the charges be dismissed because they were never bound over to adult court after a hearing in juvenile court. Prosecutors did not object.
Crump is one of two people charged in the September 2020 shooting death of Rowan Sweeney, 4, who was killed in his mother’s Perry Street home in Struthers. Four other people were also injured in the shooting.
A grand jury then indicted Crump after he was 18 in March 2021 on several other charges, including aggravated murder, felonious assault and attempted murder. Those charges, however, were never filed at the juvenile court level so a hearing was never held to determine if there was probable cause to bind them over to adult court.
Last month, defense attorneys Ed Hartwig and Lou DeFabio filed a motion to either dismiss those counts or remand them back to juvenile court. They based their motion on a June opinion by the Ohio Supreme Court which said that an adult court does not have jurisdiction over matters involving a juvenile unless a juvenile court found probable cause to bind those cases over.
Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin told Judge D’Apolito Wednesday that while her office disagrees with the opinion — she said it was too broad and addressed issues that were not raised in the appeal — it is binding and prosecutors believe there is no other way to have the case proceed then to refile the aggravated murder and other charges against Crump in juvenile court and then have a hearing on them.
The aggravated robbery charge still stands against Crump because that was bound over after a probable cause hearing. An escape charge will also remain at the common pleas level against Crump.
McLaughlin said she has already been in discussions with prosecutors at the juvenile court level about how they should proceed. McLaughlin said she expects to file charges at the juvenile level immediately after DNA results in the case are delivered Friday.
Prosecutors have so far delayed setting a trial date for Crump or co-defendant Kimonie Bryant, 25, until the results of the DNA tests are known. The results will determine who gets tried first, prosecutors have said.
Judge D’Apolito asked McLaughlin to convey to her colleagues at the juvenile level the urgency to fast-track the case as much as they can.
McLaughlin said prosecutors did not object to the defense motion so Judge D’Apolito granted the motion to dismiss all the charges except the aggravated robbery and escape.
Bryant turned himself in shortly after Sweeney was murdered. He was indicted first and Crump and a third defendant, Andre McCoy, 22, were charged in a superseding indictment. McCoy was shot in the head in the attack. He received treatment afterward but has yet to be found.
Police said Sweeney was killed after Bryant, Crump and McCoy stormed into the home of Sweeney’s mother on Sept. 21, 2020, to rob her boyfriend of his stimulus check.
Crump will continue to be held without bond on the aggravated robbery charge.