YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A date has finally been selected to test DNA evidence in the Rowan Sweeney murder case.
The testing will be done on July 18 by Bode Technology in Virginia in the case against 25-year-old Kimonie Bryant. Bryant could face the death penalty if convicted in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court of the death of 4-year-old Sweeney in September 2020.
The testing was to be done in May but it was postponed because of confusion over whether a defense expert could watch the testing in person or could watch via Zoom. The expert had to be there.
The DNA issue has been hotly litigated for almost a year and when the timetable was upset last month, Judge Anthony D’Apolito was not very happy, ordering the testing to be completed by June 30.
The July 18 date still fits into the court’s timetable because preliminary results are expected by the end of August, which will then allow prosecutors to decide if Bryant or if co-defendant Brandon Crump, 18, should be tried first for Sweeney’s death.
“This saves me from having to get mad at anyone today,” Judge D’Apolito said.
Defense attorneys John Juhasz and Lynn Maro had been arguing for the observer to watch the testing in person, and after several months of motions and a hearing, Judge D’Apolito ruled in January that the observer be allowed to watch but he did not have to be in the room when the evidence was tested.
The defense expert will be at the lab when the testing is done on July 18 and watch on closed-circuit television.
Bryant and Crump were indicted on capital specifications for the boy’s death, which means the death penalty can be applied if they are found guilty. However, because Crump was a juvenile at the time the crime was committed, under state law, he cannot be put to death.
Bryant was originally indicted in October 2020 for Sweeney’s death that was part of a superseding indictment in March 2021 that included Crump as well as Andre McCoy, 21.
McCoy was wounded in the same shooting that killed Sweeney and injured two others. Prosecutors have not been able to find him and they have not said how McCoy could have been shot in the head yet still part of the plot that resulted in Sweeney’s death. McCoy could also face the death penalty if he is convicted.
Three others were also charged in the superseding indictment with other roles in the case.
Prosecutors have never said what items were collected that have the DNA that is being tested. They say they need the tests because the theory of the crime has changed and the results will determine who will be tried first, which is a reason why no trial dates have been set yet.
Police and prosecutors said Sweeney was killed by a group of men who came to the Perry Street home of his mother to rob her boyfriend of several thousand dollars he received from a stimulus check.