$1M bond set for man accused of killing neighbor in Okeana

911 caller tells dispatcher Okeana shooter thought victim ‘was a Democrat.’

Bond has been set at $1 million for a Morgan Twp. man accused of shooting and killing his neighbor in Okeana.

After several days of back-and-forth arguments on setting appropriate bond for Austin Combs, Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael Oster filed the written decision Thursday, setting the $1 million cash or surety bond.

Combs, 26, was booked into the Butler County Jail just hours after the fatal shooting, and he was charged with murder. Earlier this month, a Butler County grand jury returned an indictment the upped the charge against Combs to aggravated murder with a gun specification.

After the indictment, Combs was ordered held in the Butler County Jail without bond until both prosecutors and his defense attorneys filed motions addressing the amount.

Anthony Lee King, 43, died of multiple gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office.

Combs was ordered held in the Butler County Jail without bond until both prosecutors and his defense attorneys filed motions addressing the amount.

Assistant Prosecutor Katie Pridemore pointed to a previous act of violence when he stabbed his father in 2017, according to Combs’ admissions.

That past history, coupled with Combs’ admission to the Nov. 5 homicide and psychological issues that has placed him on suicide watch make for a unsafe scenario and “should be considered be considered when setting a substantially high bond on this individual,” she said in the motion.

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Defense attorney Christopher Pagan filing a written motion addressing bond, stating the defendant lives with his father and grandmother who help him “care for his physical and psychological needs.”

Combs has been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and is in pain, the motion states. He has been “plagued” by the condition while in jail and has lost weight, according to the court document.

The attorneys said Combs is a lifelong resident of Butler County and a 2014 graduate of Ross High School who has no criminal record.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“There is no evidence he is a flight risk,” Pagan wrote in the motion. “Austin suggests that a financial bond with GPS monitoring or home arrest would prove adequate public protection, while protecting his presumption of innocence and permitting him to aid his defense and continue his care.”

Pridemore stated that while Combs was not convicted of assault on his father, he admitted to the incident during questioning with police, and his father corroborated.

“While is it is true that it does not appear that Combs is on probation or any form of supervision, there is evidence that Combs has been violent with a deadly weapon in the past,” Pridemore said in the response to the defense request for bond. “Although not convicted, Combs did admit in his interview to law enforcement to stabbing his father in the stomach in 2017. Combs’ father corroborated this stabbing by stating in his interview that Combs stabbed him because he didn’t like the woman the father was seeing at the same time. The father is the same person Combs wants to live with if released on bond in this case.”

The weight of evidence against Combs is “incredibly strong” and should be considered when setting bond, Pridemore said. She pointed out Combs confessed to the fatal shooting and told investigators where to find the weapon. It was located where he said it would be found when searching his residence.

Combs is scheduled to be back in court Dec. 19 for a pre-trial hearing.

According to sheriff’s office investigators, Combs admitted to shooting King in the yard of his Chapel Road residence “several times with a revolver.”

Family members called 911 after hearing shots and finding King in the backyard unresponsive and bleeding. A family member told the dispatcher a neighbor had confronted King before about perceived political affiliation.

“My neighbor just shot my dad,” a male tells dispatchers.

The caller’s mother was sobbing in the background, and the dispatcher told them to stay inside and keep the doors locked.

The victim’s wife then told the dispatcher they were cutting grass and working in the yard when she came inside to let the dog out. That’s when she heard gunshots, she said.

“I look in the backyard and that man is walking away from my husband, and my husband is on the ground,” the woman said. “He has come over like four times confronting my husband because he thought he was a Democrat. Why, why … Please, I don’t understand.”

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