Man sentenced to prison for 2016 slaying of Fairfield High School senior

Mychel King, with attorney Lawrence Hawkins III, was sentenced to life in prison with opportunity for parole after 28 years in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 in Hamilton. King was found guilty in the 2016 death of Jaylon Knight. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Mychel King, with attorney Lawrence Hawkins III, was sentenced to life in prison with opportunity for parole after 28 years in Butler County Common Pleas Court Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 in Hamilton. King was found guilty in the 2016 death of Jaylon Knight. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Hamilton man will serve at least 28 years, as judge expresses reservations that he was the principle offender.

A Hamilton man received a life sentence Wednesday for the 2016 shooting death of Fairfield High School senior Jaylon Knight.

Mychel King was convicted by a Butler County Common Pleas Common Pleas Court jury last month of aggravated murder, murder, four counts of robbery and two counts of felonious assault.

Knight’s shooting death on March 11, 2016, remained unsolved for years until King’s arrested on Dec. 8, 2020, after an indictment was returned.

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Judge Keith Spaeth said before sentencing he had “serious reservations as to whether or not (King) was the principle offender. There’s no doubt he was there and a part of it.”

Spaeth then sentenced King to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years for aggravated murder and an additional three years for the gun specification. The remaining charges were allied offenses and could not add to King’s sentence. King will be eligible for parole after serving 28 years. He faced the maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

“It is sad all the way around,” Spaeth said.

Serina Knight, Jaylon’s mother, said “they took away our lives when they killed my son ... Jaylon was ambushed as he sat in his car.”

Vanessa Pruitt, King’s mother, told the judge her son is a good person.

“My heart goes out to the Knight family,” she said. “But this is not fair at all. There is no justice here at all.”

Knight, 18, died in his black Hyundai in the 300 block of Charles Street about 5:30 a.m. The vehicle was in front of a vacant house.

Prosecutors say Knight set up a meeting to sell marijuana via cellphone communication with someone 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 prosecutors. But when he got to the meeting, a person came out of the dark, and shot three times. Knight died 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.

During trial, prosecutors showed the jury messages between Knight and “Bri Princess” talking about the meet up, drugs and the need to make the exchange quick. The messages tell Knight to park in a specific location on the short street. Seconds later, he had been shot through the passenger window.

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King is either “Bri Princess” or complicit with the person who planned the robbery that turned deadly, said prosecutors.

Expert witnesses testified King’s finger prints were on the door handle of Knight’s car. But King took the stand to explain what happened and denied shooting Knight. King testified he saw the disabled car when returning home, thought it was an overdose and went up to the vehicle to try to give aid.

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Jaylon Knight SUBMITTED
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Jaylon Knight SUBMITTED

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The defense argued there was no proof of who shot Knight. There were other people who lived on the street and may have been tied to the robbery plan based on the messages between “Bri Princess” and Knight.

Testing of the shell casings found at the scene for DNA or fingerprints may have told police who actually fired the gun that killed Knight, not just who touched a door handle, the defense said. But the casings were not tested.

Retired Hamilton Detective Jim Smith testified Tuesday in the murder trial of Mychel King in Butler County Common Pleas Court. King's is accused of killing Jaylon Knight in 2016. Knight's defense attorney, Lawrence Hawkins III is at left and Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser holds a map of Hamilton NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Retired Hamilton Detective Jim Smith testified Tuesday in the murder trial of Mychel King in Butler County Common Pleas Court. King's is accused of killing Jaylon Knight in 2016. Knight's defense attorney, Lawrence Hawkins III is at left and Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser holds a map of Hamilton NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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