Mother of area teen homicide victim relieved by arrests

A Hamilton mother says she is relieved after the second arrest of suspects charged in her 16-year-old child’s shooting death, but it won’t bring her daughter back.

Last week Fairfield Twp. police arrested 18-year-old Jordan A. Spain of Milford for his involvement in the 2018 homicide of Sydney Garcia-Tovar, who was 16 when she was shot and killed in the 7500 block of Wildbranch Road in Tyler’s Creek Townhomes.

On July 23, 2018, Garcia-Tovar was fatally shot while behind the wheel of a car in the parking lot outside the apartment complex. She was pronounced dead the next day. A second gunshot victim survived.

Markeylnd Townsend, 23, was arrested two weeks after the homicide on an unrelated aggravated robbery charge in Hamilton and sentenced in April 2019 to three years in prison. While in prison, Townsend was indicted in April 2021 for murder with a gun specification and felonious assault. Townsend is accused of firing a weapon into a car full of people driven by Garcia-Tovar.

The Journal-News does not typically name juvenile suspects unless they are tried as an adult, but it is happening in this case because Spain is now an adult.

After the second arrest, Stephanie Garcia-Tovar said she was a bit shocked by the age of the suspect at the time of her daughter’s death.

“A 14-year-old out playing with a real gun, not what I would think a 14-year-old boy would be playing with,” she said. “I figured it was someone older, but at 14 they know right from wrong and he chose to ignore common sense, so here we are.”

According to juvenile court documents, police believe Spain is the person who fired the shot that killed Garcia-Tovar.

Spain “did shoot and kill Sydney Garcia-Tovar. Victim was shot in the head,” according to the court offense document signed by Sgt. Brandon McCroskey. The court document also accuses Spain of firing a 45-caliber handgun into Garcia-Tovar’s occupied car.

The mother said she will be “stressing” until Spain is sent to adult court to “be charged properly.”

At the time of Garcia-Tovar’s death, Spain was 14 and lived on Wildbranch Road, where the shooting occurred. The case has been filed in the juvenile court system because of his age at the time of the offense, said McCroskey.

Spain was arraigned last week by a magistrate in juvenile court and ordered to remain in the county juvenile detention center. He is scheduled to be before Butler County Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Romans on Sept. 19, according to prosecutors.

The case is not an automatic bind over to adult court, but a judge will have to determine if Spain should be tried as an adult and send the case to common pleas court for grand jury consideration.

“I am happy that both of them are behind bars, but does it bring closure? No,” Garcia-Tovar said. “It doesn’t bring my daughter back. They took life from this world. They took life from me.”

Garcia-Tovar praised the efforts of Fairfield Twp. Police detectives for the investigation and arrests.

But she added, the entire incident is tied to others in the car with her daughter, who didn’t know what was going on. So she would like to have them also held accountable.

Townsend’s trial was scheduled to begin in January but was rescheduled until Sept. 19.

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

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