YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — One of the three defendants in the 2020 shooting death of a 4-year-old Struthers boy waived a Wednesday hearing in Mahoning County Juvenile Court to determine if his case should be bound over to common pleas court.
Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick bound over 12 counts against Brandon Crump, 19, in the September 2020 death of Rowan Sweeney, including three counts of aggravated murder, four counts of attempted murder and four counts of felonious assault. All of the charges have firearms specifications.
Prosecutors dismissed one charge of aggravated murder by prior calculation and design against Crump.
The aggravating circumstances for the remaining aggravated murder counts are because Sweeney was killed during an aggravated robbery, an aggravated burglary, and a felonious assault.
If Crump was an adult, he could face the death penalty, but because he was 17 when the crimes were committed, he could be sentenced to life in prison because Sweeney is under 13.
Because the charges were bound over by Judge Dellick, a grand jury will now consider whether Crump should be indicted at the common pleas level.
Assistant Prosecutor Mike Yacovone said after the hearing that the reason why prosecutors decided to dismiss the one count of aggravated murder is that it would be difficult to prove that Crump acted with a plan before the shootings and robbery took place.
He said there are still plenty of other aggravating circumstances for jurors to consider if the case goes to trial.
Sweeney was killed and four others wounded in what prosecutors said was a robbery at the Perry Street home of his mother in Struthers. Prosecutors say Crump and two other men, Kimonie Bryant, 26 and Andre McCoy, 22, were there to take money from the boyfriend of Sweeney’s mother that he received from a stimulus check.
Bryant turned himself in hours after the shooting and has been in the county jail since then. He was indicted in October 2020. McCoy was indicted in March 2021 in a superseding indictment, but he was not arrested until January. He was shot in the head during the same shooting that killed Sweeney. Prosecutors have not said if he was wounded on purpose or by accident.
Crump was taken into custody in November 2020 and charged with aggravated robbery in juvenile court. That charge was bound over to common pleas court following a hearing, but he was indicted by a grand jury on the aggravated murder and other charges without a hearing.
Under Ohio law, a juvenile suspect must have the opportunity to have a hearing to determine if his case should be heard by an adult court, and because Crump never had that hearing, those charges were sent back to juvenile court.
Prosecutors have said they wanted to try Crump’s case first, but a trial date can’t be set for him until or if he is indicted and arraigned.
McCoy’s trial is tentatively set for Sept. 5 and Bryant’s for Sept. 11. However, Bryant’s trial will probably have to be pushed back if McCoy’s or Crump’s case goes forward first.
Prosecutors did divulge at a pretrial hearing for McCoy earlier this month that they have extended a plea offer to him, but so far, that offer has not been accepted.
Bryant and McCoy could both face the death penalty if convicted.