YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — One of three people charged in the 2020 shooting death of a 4-year-old Struthers boy — and the last suspect to be taken into custody — pleaded guilty Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for his role in the crime.
Andre McCoy, 22, of Youngstown, entered the guilty plea before Judge Anthony D’Apolito to a charge of murder.
Attorneys in the case are recommending a sentence of 15 years to life in prison, which is the only sentence that can be given for murder.
In exchange for his plea, all other charges and specifications in the case have been dropped.
A sentencing date has not been set yet, but it is expected to be after the cases of the other two defendants are finished.
McCoy could have been sentenced to death if he was convicted by a jury in the case. He did have a trial date of Sept. 5.
Assistant Prosecutor Mike Yacovone said that Sweeney’s mother and father were both told of the plea agreement in separate conversations, and both said they agree with the deal.
Prosecutors declined to comment.
McCoy is one of three men charged with the death of Rowan Sweeney, and the wounding of four other people during a September 2020 home invasion robbery at the Perry Street home of his mother in Struthers. Police said the robbers were looking for cash that the mother’s boyfriend had from a stimulus check.
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.
After he recuperated from his injuries, he disappeared and was on the run for over two years before U.S. Marshals found him in January and took him into custody at a house on the South Side.
Kimonie Bryant, 26, could also be sentenced to death if convicted of Sweeney’s death. He turned himself in hours after the shooting and has been in the county jail since then. He was indicted in October 2020. His trial is set for Sept. 11.
Also indicted for his role in the deaths is Brandon Crump, 19. 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.
Crump waived his hearing in June, and his case was then bound over to common pleas court.
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 and also because Crump’s case had to be sent back to juvenile court.
Prosecutors said they needed the DNA 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.