YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Prosecutors in the Rowan Sweeney case say one of the defendants filmed a video of himself shortly after the boy was killed with a large amount of money that appeared to be taken from another victim in the case.
In a partial bill of particulars filed Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for Kimonie Bryant, 25, prosecutors said that Bryant and Andre McCoy, 21, exchanged messages about a large amount of cash the boyfriend of Sweeney’s mother, Yarnell Green, displayed in the Struthers home of Sweeney’s mother, Alexis Schneider.
Bryant had a pretrial hearing Thursday before Judge Anthony D’Apolito.
McCoy, who was in the home, texted Bryant that the money was in the Perry Street home and a shooter entered the home, took the money, and shot and killed the 4-year-old Sweeney and wounded Schneider, Green and McCoy.
Shortly after the shooting, co-defendant Brandon Crump, 18, was shown in a video that was later found on his cellphone showing him with “a large amount of cash in denominations consistent with the cash Green had on the table at the time of the shootings.”
The partial bill of particulars was only for a conspiracy count that was filed against Bryant the same day McCoy and Crump were indicted on aggravated murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery charges for the shootings.
The aggravated murder charges carry death penalty specifications, although Crump can not receive the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of the shootings and is ineligible under Ohio law because he is a juvenile.
Bryant turned himself in shortly after the shootings and was indicted by a grand jury in October of 2020. McCoy and Crump were indicted in March. The March indictment included a conspiracy count against Bryant that his attorneys are objecting to. Prosecutors filed the partial bill of particulars as part of the conspiracy case against him.
McCoy was shot in the head in the same shooting and has not been found since he was treated for his wound. Three others were also charged in that indictment with other roles in the case.
Prosecutors have said previously that the shooting came because Bryant, McCoy and Crump wanted the cash from Green, who got it from his COVID-19 stimulus checks.
Defense attorneys for Bryant want the conspiracy count dismissed because they said it was filed in March, not when Bryant was originally indicted in October, and the March filing is past the time Bryant has a right to a speedy trial. They also made a motion to have access to grand jury transcripts for when Bryant’s case was heard by the grand jury. Grand jury proceedings are almost always secret.
Judge D’Apolito Thursday denied that motion for now, but he added he may revisit the decision after a hearing is held next month with testimony from officers who investigated the case. The hearing is part of the defense motion to dismiss the conspiracy count.
Judge D’Apolito said he may revisit the issue if he or the defense is not satisfied with answers during the hearing.
Judge D’Apolito also said he will rule on a request at the next hearing by Bryant’s attorneys to have DNA in the case not only be tested by an independent lab but also observed by an independent observer.
The DNA in the case is being stored at a lab in Virginia, but that lab will not allow anyone inside to observe any testing. They have agreed to allow an expert watch the testing on closed-circuit television.
Defense attorney John Juhasz said that is not good enough because their expert needs to observe the entire process in person from start to finish so they can report back to defense counsel if all proper procedures were followed.
Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin said that such labs have policies in place for their protection and that the court should defer to them because they are the experts in the field.
Judge D’Apolito gave defense attorneys until next month to find a lab that will allow an independent observer inside to observe testing. He said if they cannot, he may order that defense attorneys use the option to view the testing via closed-circuit television.
DNA testing is one of the most important issues in the case because the results could determine who will be tried first: Bryant or Crump. Trial dates are still up in the air for both defendants.
Prosecutors have not revealed what items are being tested for DNA.