New trial date set for man indicted for teen’s 2018 shooting death

Prosecutors say shooting was part of marijuana deal gone bad.

A fall trial date has been set for a Hamilton man in the 2018 shooting death of a 16-year-old girl after a continuance and the hiring of a new attorney.

Markeylnd Townsend, 23, was indicted in April 2021 for murder and felonious assault stemming from a July 2018 incident in Fairfield Twp. He is accused of firing a weapon into a car full of people driven by Sydney Garcia-Tovar, 16, of Hamilton, who died of a gunshot wound.

Passenger Joseph Goolsby, 21, also was shot, and recovered from his injuries.

A trial in Butler County Common Pleas Court was set for January, but continued when the defense attorney said more time was needed to prepare.

In May, that defense attorney, Clyde Bennett III, withdrew as Townsend’s counsel. Attorney Muhammad Hamidullah has been retained to represent Townsend.

Townsend was back in court Wednesday with his new attorney, where Judge Greg Howard set trial for Sept. 19.

Previous defense motions to suppress statements Townsend gave to investigators and to have his bond reduced were denied by the judge.

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Townsend, who has served a prison sentence for aggravated robbery not related to the slaying, is being held in lieu of a $500,000 bond.

According to court documents, the shooting was part of a marijuana deal that went bad.

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Townsend was arrested two weeks after the murder on an unrelated aggravated robbery charge in Hamilton and sentenced in April 2019 to three years in prison on the second-degree felony. According to court records in that case, Townsend took money and marijuana from the victim, but he claimed the victim stole from him and he was attempting to take the items back when a witness saw the crime. Townsend attempted to hit the victim with a handgun, according to the 2018 Hamilton police report.

Stephanie Garcia-Tovar told the Journal-News last year that her daughter did not know any of the people involved in what was happening the night she died.

“I know she had a brain because she was trying to get away …,” Garcia-Tovar said.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said two groups of people are believed to have met up in the parking lot of an apartment complex for criminal activity and Garcia-Tovar was shot in the back of the head while she was driving away from the gunfire.

Garcia-Tovar was fatally shot at about 10:25 p.m. inside the car outside the Tyler’s Creek Apartments on Wildbranch Road in Fairfield Twp. She was flown to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead the next day.

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