YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — When a judge calls, most people listen.
But what happens if he has to leave a voicemail?
That happened Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, when Judge Anthony D’Apolito called the out-of-state lab handling DNA testing in the Rowan Sweeney case during a pretrial hearing for one of the two defendants accused of the 4-year-old’s murder.
Judge D’Apolito placed two calls to representatives of Bode Technology in Virginia, after being informed by prosecutors that the long-awaited DNA results in the case, which were expected to be delivered Tuesday, were not.
Instead, prosecutors said they were told by Bode they expected the results to be ready by the end of the week.
Judge D’Apolito said he wanted to call Bode to let them know that he needs the results so Kimonie Bryant, 26, and co-defendant Brandon Crump, 18, can be tried as soon as possible. He noted they were paid by the county for the testing and he wants the results.
“This is frustrating, to put it kindly,” Judge D’Apolito said.
Judge D’Apolito decided to call during the hearing because he wanted to make sure the lawyers in the case could hear what he said and also so the call would be on the record.
However, the judge had to leave two voicemails. He said he would not speak to the people he left messages with if they called back unless the lawyers in the case were present.
Prosecutors said Bode did not give a reason for the delay.
The DNA issue was litigated for months because Bryant’s counsel, John Juhasz and Lynn Maro, wanted an independent expert to observe the testing in person. Bode balked at that requirement, as did other labs.
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 testing was done in July.
Prosecutors say the testing is crucial because they need it to determine if Crump or Bryant will go on trial first for the boy’s death. Sweeney died in September 2020 at his mother’s Perry Street home in a shooting that wounded several other people.
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.
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 home of his mother to rob her boyfriend of several thousand dollars that he received from a stimulus check.