YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Prosecutors told a judge in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that they need DNA test results before moving forward in a Struthers murder case.
They said the completion of DNA tests is necessary before deciding who to try first for the shooting death of a 4-year-old Struthers boy.
Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin said during a pretrial hearing before Judge Anthony D’Apolito for Brandon Crump, 18, that the testing is crucial in determining who the “principal,” or main offender, is in the death of Rowan Sweeney in September of 2020 at his mother’s Perry Street home in Struthers.
Crump faces several charges, including aggravated murder, for the death of Sweeney as well as another defendant, Kimonie Bryant, 25.
Both were indicted on capital specifications, 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 can not be put to death.
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, 21, 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.
Bryant turned himself in hours after he learned he was a suspect, and Crump was arrested on a robbery charge in November on a warrant out of juvenile court and had his case bound over to common pleas court.
Bryant turned himself in hours after he learned he was a suspect, and Crump and Bryant was arrested on an aggravated robbery warrant from juvenile court and had his case bound over to common pleas court.
Attorneys for Bryant want the testing to be done by an independent lab and witnessed by an independent observer. However, the Virginia lab where the testing will be done will not allow anyone else in the lab. McLaughlin said if the lab receives a court order, they will allow an independent observer to witness the testing via closed-circuit television.
McLaughlin said she was not sure if that would satisfy Bryant’s attorneys.
Judge D’Apolito asked prosecutors to provide him case law on the matter by Dec. 9, when Bryant will have a pretrial hearing, and he said he wants to decide then on how to proceed with the testing, so that the results can be completed as soon as possible so trial dates in the case can begin to be set.
Attorneys also talked of a discovery conference ordered by Judge D’Apolito because of the large number of records that needed to be turned over to defense attorneys. Lou DeFabio, one of Crump’s attorneys, said he thinks he has all the material prosecutors have but he won’t be certain until he goes through it all.
Prosecutors have said the boy was killed when a group of men burst into the home to rob his mother’s boyfriend he had received from his stimulus check.