Hamilton murder trial, Day 1: Attorneys outline arguments in 2016 shooting death of Fairfield senior

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Prosecutors say DNA and fingerprints on a car door handle from where a Fairfield High School senior was shot to death behind the wheel in 2016 points to Mychel King’s involvement in the homicide.

But the defense said the person who killed Jaylon Knight on the morning of March 11, 2016 is still a mystery, continuing after years of investigation that only resulted in King’s arrest in December 2020.

King, 24, was arrested Dec. 8, 2020 after he was indicted for Knight’s death. He faces charges of aggravated murder, murder, four counts of aggravated robbery and two counts of felonious assault during a trial that began Monday in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

Knight, 18, died in a car in the 300 block of Charles Street. The vehicle was in front of a house, just short of striking the structure. Knight was slumped over the steering wheel with a large amount of blood inside the vehicle and two bullet holes in the windshield.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser, in his opening statement in Judge Keith Spaeth’s courtroom, said Knight set up a meeting to sell marijuana on the cold, damp morning via cell phone communication with who he thought was a female named “Bri Princess.”

He was directed to a specific location on Charles Street and was told to keep his door unlocked for a quick transaction, according to Gmoser. But when he got to the meeting, a person came out of the dark, shot three times and struck Knight in the head and neck. He was dead at the scene.

Knight’s car moved forward and was found by police with the engine still running. A handle to the driver’s side door was found in the road about 30 feet away. Testing by police eventually indicated King’s DNA and fingerprints on that handle, Gmoser said. He added Knight had not followed instructions and did have his doors locked.

King gave detectives two statements during questioning, one in the summer of 2016 that he was asleep in his basement on Fourth Street and knew nothing about the shooting, Gmoser said.

The second statement came after police knew his DNA was on the handle. King told police he was staying at his father’s home for a doctor’s appointment, heard the lights from police the morning of the incident and put his hand on the car to look in the window, Gmoser told the jury.

A shoe print taken at the crime scene also looked similar to a Nike tennis shoe found by police on a porch when they went to question King.

When the indictment came, police knew King was involved in the robbery attempt during a drug deal that when bad, Gmoser said. But less than a month ago, a witness came forward who will testify at trial about what King told him he did on the night Knight was killed.

“Bri Princess was Mychel King,” Gmoser said. “The last person to touch the handle was Mychel King.”

Defense attorney Lawrence Hawkins III told the jury during opening statements that the death of Knight is a “good, old-fashioned whodunit.”

After determining that Knight went to Charles Street for a drug deal, police had several years in which several suspects and leads were pursued, Hawkins said.

“There will be a lot missing in actual evidence on who shot Jaylon Knight, who killed Jaylon Knight,” Hawkins said. “On March 11, 2016, Jaylon Knight went to Charles Street to meet a woman and sell drugs, but the evidence will not show who killed him.”

The trial continues today with the prosecution beginning its case.

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