YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A judge ordered a suspect in the September slaying of a Struthers 4-year-old will be moved from the juvenile pod at the Mahoning County Jail into the general population.
Judge Anthony D’Apolito in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court issued the order Thursday during a pretrial hearing for Brandon Crump, 18, one of three people charged for a Sept. 21 home invasion where Rowan Sweeney was shot and killed in his mother’s Perry Street home in Struthers.
At the time Crump was first arrested in the case in November, he was only 17 and he was charged with just aggravated robbery in juvenile court.
A grand jury indicted him in March for Sweeney’s death plus the shooting of four other people during the home invasion, after his case was bound over to common pleas court and he turned 18.
At his last pretrial hearing in April, the lawyer who represented Crump in juvenile court, Jeffrey Kurz, asked Judge D’Apolito to delay transferring his client to the general population because he was concerned he may come into contact with other witnesses and defendants in the case who are housed in the jail.
Kurz said Crump was being threatened at the jail but he provided no specifics.
Judge D’Apolito said Thursday he thought the matter over and decided because Crump is 18, he should be housed in the general population. He said he would instruct jail officials to make sure Crump is housed in a separate part of the jail from any witnesses or co-defendants and to make sure they are kept separated when they are out of their cells.
When questioned by the judge, Crump said he has been having no problems at the jail.
Although Crump was indicted on death penalty specifications for the death of Sweeney, he can not receive the death penalty because he was a juvenile at the time the crime was committed.
Two others indicted for Sweeney’s death, 24-year-old Kimonie Bryant, was arrested the same day Sweeney was killed and was indicted in the fall on death penalty specifications. In the superseding indictment, 21-year-old Andre McCoy was also indicted on death penalty specifications for the death of the boy.
McCoy’s status, however, is unclear. He was shot in the head in the attack that also wounded three others and his medical condition is not clear. He has yet to be arraigned.
Police said the motive for the home invasion was that McCoy, Bryant and Crump wanted to rob the boyfriend of Sweeney’s mother of several thousand dollars he received from a stimulus check.
Bryant’s mother and Crump’s girlfriend are also facing tampering with evidence charges in the case.
Crump, McCoy and Bryant face charges of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications; four counts of attempted murder and felonious assault; aggravated robbery; aggravated burglary; and conspiracy.
Bryant has a trial date in September while Crump is set to go on trial in January.