A Hamilton man in jail for nearly a year after his arrest within hours of a fatal shooting in a Fairfield Twp. Walmart last spring made a plea for the judge to set bond Tuesday, but prosecutors slapped back, outlining the weight of evidence against him.
Anthony F. Brown, 32, is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, felonious assault and having weapons under disability for the May 26, 2022, double shooting that killed a customer at the Princeton Road store.
Before bond was set, Brown read a lengthy statement to the judge saying he was being mistreated in the Butler County Jail, including being watched while showering and held in isolation, which is hindering his use of that law library “as I defend myself against this alleged crimes.”
Brown requested Haughey set bond at $400,000, 10 percent rule, so that his family could afford to post bond.
Judge Dan Haughey set bond at $1.5 million, stating by law he now has to consider public safety and the strength of the prosecution’s case, “which is very compelling.”
Brown then asked if the judge would consider house arrest. That was a no from the judge.
Brown’s new defense attorney Philip Stephens from the Butler County public defender office filed a motion April 11 asking the judge to reinstate and lower bond. Brown has been in the Butler County Jail for months without bond after his first attorney questioned his competency and sanity at the time he allegedly committed the crimes.
In January, after a series of legal maneuvering and forensic psychological evaluations, Brown was declared fit for trial.
Also at Tuesday’s hearing, Brown spoke up and told the judge he was withdrawing his not guilty by reason of insanity plea and officially pleading not guilty.
Stephens said in the bond motion, Brown’s bond was originally set at $900,000 before question of his sanity. Brown’s sanity is no longer in question and the attorney requested the judge reinstate the bond, and consider lowering it.
Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Katie Pridemore said the weight of evidence, including a note passed to the store clerk, a mask and the alleged murder weapon found at the time of Brown’s arrest, points to the need for substantial bond.
Brown was caught on multiple Walmart store clips on May 26. First he was seen being dropped off by his father and walking into the store, according to prosecutors.
“Brown’s entire interactions were caught on video at the electronics counter where for 22 minutes he tried to steal iPhones, where he passed a threatening note to the employee and where he ultimately pushed and shoved the electronics employee and fled with multiple phones,” Pridemore wrote.
There is video of Brown running through the store trying to get away; he is on video in the produce section where he shot both innocent victims, and finally, there is video of him fleeing the store, according to prosecutors.
When the license plate on the suspected getaway vehicle returned to Brown’s father, he confirmed he took his son to the store and identified Brown through still photos from the video, according to prosecutors.
“The father also confirmed his son’s cell number, and law enforcement used that information to find Brown’s location, hiding out in a hotel room in Middletown,” Pridemore wrote.
When police went to the hotel room, Brown jumped out a window with the murder weapon in his hands and tried to flee, but was apprehended, according to prosecutors.
In the hotel room, officers found the same jacket and mask Brown wore in Walmart, the shoes he was wearing — with blood spatter — and “the note Brown wrote to the electronics employee that stated ‘I do not want to shoot you. I am taking the phones’,” Pridemore wrote.
Brown is accused of shooting and killing Adam Black, 35, a Hamilton man who had recently moved to the area and who just learned he was going to be a father. Brown also is accused of shooting and wounding Eric Ruff, 57, of Fairfield, a Walmart employee who survived.
A SWAT team took Brown into custody at a Fairfield Inn in Middletown several hours after the shooting.
Brown is also accused of robbing an employee at gunpoint at Minnick’s Drive Thru on Dixie Highway on Oct. 15, 2021, taking cash and lottery tickets. He was out of jail on a $200,000 bond for that alleged crime at the time of the Walmart shooting. That case is still pending.
Credit: Nick Graham
Credit: Nick Graham
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