YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Despite a glitch in the trial date of the first person charged in the death of a 4-year-old Struthers boy, the trial date for the second defendant in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court will remain the same for now.
Judge Anthony D’Apolito said Wednesday during a pretrial hearing for Kimonie Bryant, 26, he will not change Bryant’s Sept. 9 for now, although he added he is a “realist” and expects that to change.
Prosecutors decided in December to try Brandon Crump, 19, first, for the death of Rowan Sweeney, who was killed in September 2020 during a home invasion robbery at his mother’s Perry Street home in Struthers in a shooting that injured four other people.
Crump, who was 17 when the crime took place, had his aggravated murder charges sent back to juvenile court because those charges were never heard by a juvenile court judge. Crump was charged as a juvenile in November 2020 with aggravated robbery in the case but was indicted in March 2021 for Sweeney’s death.
A third defendant, Andre McCoy, 22, was also charged with Sweeney’s death and was wounded in the same shooting that took the boy’s life. He was not arrested until January at a home on the South Side.
McCoy and Bryant could both face the death penalty if convicted. Crump is not eligible for the death penalty because he was a juvenile at the time the crimes were committed.
Crump was to have a bind-over hearing in juvenile court, but that was pushed back to June — when he was supposed to go on trial — because his attorney wanted to examine more evidence seized by investigators when McCoy was arrested.
A trial date has yet to be set for McCoy. McCoy was shot in the head during the robbery and at one time was thought to be close to death. Prosecutors have not said if he was shot on purpose or if it was an accident.
The case has taken a long time to make its way through the court docket because of litigation over DNA testing in the case at a private lab. Prosecutors said they needed the tests to be completed to determine who would be tried first in the case, while attorneys for Bryant wanted an expert to observe the testing in person, however, a lab that would allow that to take place could not be found.
Judge D’Apolito said he expects to probably move Bryant’s trial date as well because of an influx of new evidence attorneys have to pore over since McCoy was arrested, but he added he wants to keep the date for now.
The amount of discovery in the case is so staggering that Assistant Prosecutor Mike Yacovone said he and his team have been constantly reviewing it to make sure everything has been provided to defense attorneys.
Defense attorney John Juhasz said he needs to have access to discovery for the other defendants to either prepare for trial or in case there was a pretrial resolution in the case.
Yacovone said attorneys are welcome to review the discovery for the co-defendants.
“We want to be as transparent as possible,” Yacovone said.