Death penalty trial starts today for Hamilton retaliation shooting

Death penalty trial starts today for Hamilton retaliation shooting

A death penalty trial for Zachary Harris, one of four people charged in a Hamilton retaliation shooting that killed two people is scheduled to begin today, more than a year after the incident.

Zachary Harris, 25, of Columbus, is charged with two counts of aggravated murder for the drive-by shooting deaths of Orlando Gilbert and Todd Berus in August 2016.

The two-week trial in Butler Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephen’s courtroom will begin with jury selection.

A string of violence in the summer of 2016 began with a shootout at Doubles Bar in the city’s west side that killed one person and wounded seven others. That shooting sparked retaliation violence on the afternoon of Aug. 3, 2016, that left Gilbert and Berus dead.

According to prosecutors, Michael Grevious II, one of the men involved in the Doubles shootout, hired Harris to kill Gilbert for $5,000.

Then on that afternoon in August 2016, a Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Melinda Gibby pulled up next to a black Ford Mustang occupied by Gilbert and Berus. Tony Patete, the front seat passenger of the truck, opened fire with an AK-47 multiple times, killing Gilbert and Berus, according to court documents.

Harris’ defense attorneys argue he is not mentally fit to be given the death penalty. They wanted to delay his trial and suppress his confession to Hamilton police. Stephens denied all three motions.

Patete, 23, of Newark, is charged with two counts of aggravated murder. He is scheduled to stand trial on Dec. 4.

Grevious, charged with aggravated murder and felonious assault for the Doubles shootout, will be the last to stand trial on Feb. 26.

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