Man accused in fatal Fairfield Twp. Walmart shooting competent to stand trial

HAMILTON — After two court-ordered psychological evaluation for a man accused of firing gunshots inside a Fairfield Twp. Walmart that killed a customer has been declared competent to stand trial.

Anthony F. Brown, 32, of Hamilton, who is charged with aggravated murder, murder, aggravated robbery, felonious assault and having weapons under disability, was back in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday for a second competency evaluation hearing before Judge Dan Haughey.

Defense attorney Clyde Bennett II filed a “not guilty by reason of insanity” plea on Brown’s behalf. He also questioned his client’s competency to stand trial — meaning Brown is unable to assist in his own defense.

A forensic psychological evaluation that was ordered in June concluded Brown is competent to stand trial and not eligible for an insanity plea, according to prosecutors.

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Bennett requested Brown receive a second psychological evaluation, which is permitted by law. Haughey granted that request.

The second evaluation concluded the same result and Haughey declared Brown competent for purposes of trial.

Bennett also requested Brown be evaluated again for the insanity plea. Haughey granted that request. Brown is scheduled to be back in court Oct. 25.

An insanity plea means the defendant at the time of the offense did not know, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, the wrongfulness of their actions.

Also on Tuesday, Brown was in Butler County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer McElfresh’s courtroom for a hearing on the charge of aggravated robbery.

Brown is accused of robbing an employee at gunpoint at Minnick’s Drive Thru on Dixie Highway on Oct. 23, taking cash and lottery tickets. He was indicted for that crime on Dec. 8. He was out of jail on a $200,000 bond for the added robbery charge of the Walmart shooting.

Bennett filed a notice questioning Brown’s competency to stand trial in the robbery case and McElfresh ordered a psychological evaluation. On Tuesday, that evaluation also concluded Brown is fit for trial. Bennett did not ask for a second opinion.

The robbery case was not set for trial; Brown has signed a time waiver and Bennett said it is in the best interest of his client to wait unit the litigation of the murder case.

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Bennett previously told the Journal-News after having conversations with Brown, “he did not appear to be mentally normal.”

On Tuesday’s first hearing, Bennett said Brown’s mental state has improved.

“He is lucid and I could understand what he was saying and I could communicate with him in a manner to assist me in understanding what happened,” Bennett said.

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In the May 26 incident at Walmart, Brown, while allegedly trying to steal cell phones, 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 is also accused of shooting and wounding Eric Ruff, 57, of Fairfield, a Walmart employee who has been released from the hospital and is recovering.

A SWAT team took Brown into custody at a Fairfield Inn in Middletown several hours after the shooting. Gmoser said the investigation is continuing, including how Brown got to the Middletown hotel after the shootings.

Brown is being held in the Butler County Jail without bond.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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