Fatal Walmart shooting: 18 months later, still no trial date for suspect

Two shot, one killed in Fairfield Twp. store by suspect in robbery.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

It has been 18 months since a double shooting that killed one inside a Fairfield Twp. Walmart, and the suspect remains in the Butler County Jail and is no closer to trial.

Anthony Brown, 33, of Hamilton, is accused of the slaying while trying to rob the store of cell phones on May 26, 2022. He was arrested within hours after leading local law enforcement officials on a search. He was apprehended at a Middletown hotel.

A week later, Brown was indicted by a Butler County grand jury for aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, felonious assault and having weapons under disability for the double shooting that killed a customer at the Princeton Road store.

On Tuesday, Brown was scheduled to be back in Butler County Common Pleas Court, but Judge Dan Haughey granted his new attorney Brad Kraemer a continuance, and the plea or trial setting hearing was reset for Nov. 21.

Kraemer requested the continuance due to a scheduling conflict, according to court records.

Brown was originally set for trial in June of this year but it was cancelled after his retained attorney withdrew from the case, citing irreconcilable differences. In January, after months of legal motions and forensic psychological evaluations, Brown was declared fit for trial.

A second trial set for next month with new court-appointed attorney was also vacated when Brown indicated his family might hire an attorney he “could work with.”

In July, Carter received Kraemer as his new court-appointed attorney. Since then pre-trial hearings have been continued without a trial date being set.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said he leaves it up to the judge to decide whether or not to give a continuance, unless something stands out as egregious.

“The level of seriousness in this case is very, very high compared to most of the cases I handle,” Gmoser said. “But in as much as it is a case involving the death of a father, obviously he (Brown) is not going anywhere so I am not concerned with public safety ... and if the attorney needs more time, I generally do not oppose those requests unless I really start to feel that the system is being used,” Gmoser said.

Brown is being held on $1.5 million bond based on public safety and the strength of the prosecution’s case.

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.

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, 2022. 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.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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