Discovery issues, DNA testing discussed at hearing for co-defendant in Rowan Sweeney case

Local News
Kimonie Bryant, Struthers homicide

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Monday, a judge in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court ordered a second set of attorneys in the case of a murdered 4-year-old boy to meet with prosecutors to determine what discovery materials they still need to defend their client.

Judge Anthony D’Apolito issued the order on Monday in the case of Kimonie Bryant, 25, who faces a count of aggravated murder that could carry the death penalty if convicted of the Sept. 2020 shooting death of Rowan Sweeney and the wounding of three others in the Struthers home of Sweeney’s mother.

As with co-defendant Brandon Crump, 18, defense attorneys have said the amount of discovery materials in the case is so massive that they’re having a hard time figuring out what they have and what they need.

On Monday, defense attorney Lynn Maro said they received an updated list from prosecutors that changed the order of the material they had been given earlier. It would take months, she said, to cross-reference all the new material to see what was new and what her and co-counsel John Juhasz already have.

Bryant was originally indicted in October 2020 for Sweeney’s death that was part of a superseding indictment in March that included Crump and Andre McCoy, who were also charged with Sweeney’s death.

McCoy was shot in the head in the same shooting and has not been able to be found since he was treated for his wound. Three others were also charged in that indictment with other roles in the case.

McCoy also faces the death penalty but Crump cannot receive the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of the killing and juveniles are not eligible to receive the death penalty under Ohio law.

As with the attorneys in the Crump case last week, Judge D’Apolito ordered counsel in the Bryant case to meet and go over discovery materials. He suggested that they go over categories of discovery first, rather than concentrate on every document, because that way it is easier to find out what has been provided and what is outstanding.

When attorneys expressed some reservations as to what a meeting may accomplish, Judge D’Apolito said having them all together in one room will make it easier to figure out how to determine what materials are still needed.

The judge said the process needs to be completed soon so that he can determine who should be tried first — Crump or Bryant.

Attorneys also decided to ask a Virginia lab that has DNA collected in the case if they would honor a court order by Judge D’Apolito to allow an outside expert to watch the DNA be tested.

Defense attorneys want an outside expert to witness the test but the lab has said they would not allow anyone in because of COVID-19 protocols. However, Juhasz showed the judge the lab’s guidelines for allowing outside observers and one of those exceptions is if a court orders it.

However, Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin said she wasn’t sure how a court in Ohio could enforce an order in Virginia.

She suggested calling the lab and asking how they would respond to a court order from Ohio. She will then report back to the judge and the other attorneys in the case.

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