Trial continued for man charged in 16-year-old girl’s 2018 shooting death

Prosecutors say shooting was part of marijuana deal gone bad.

A trial that was scheduled to begin Tuesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court for a Hamilton man charged with murder in the 2018 shooting death of a 16-year-old girl has been continued.

Markeylnd Townsend, 22, was indicted in April for murder with a gun specification 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.

Last week, Townsend’s attorney, Clyde Bennett III, filed a motion to continue the trial because more time was needed to prepare. The prosecution did not oppose the request.

Judge Greg Howard granted the motion and a new trial date is expected to be set when Townsend is back in court Jan. 19.

In October, a defense motion to suppress statements Townsend gave to investigators was denied by the judge.

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

Townsend, who is in prison serving a sentence for aggravated robbery not related to the slaying, is also being held in lieu of $500,000 in the murder case.

The mother of the 16-year-old Hamilton girl shot and killed in 2018 said in March the indictment is both a relief and the start of a new, stressful journey.

Stephanie Garcia-Tovar said she knew it was coming soon, but hearing that her daughter’s accused killer had been indicted made it real, she told the Journal-News shortly after the indictment was released.

“It wasn’t really a shock to me. When you actually see it, it’s more like, ‘Oh, crap’ it’s real and it’s on,” she said. “It is starting a whole new journey in her case. And it’s more raw, it’s like going back to the very beginning. The whole thing has taken a toll on me mentally, emotionally and physically.”

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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.

Garcia-Tovar said 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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