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The first trial to happen in Butler County since the shutdowns related to the coronavirus includes extra precautions and many changes to the courtrooms.

Mezahn Demarco Amison, 22, of Manchester Avenue, is charged with murder and felonious assault for allegedly killing Zachariah Wallace, 17, on Dec. 6. In May, Judge Jennifer McElfresh postponed Amison’s trial, citing coronavirus concerns.

After encasing individual juror chairs, the defense and prosecution tables and the witness box with dividers, the first trial since the March began with jury selection on Monday. It is being held in a courtroom usually reserved for visiting judges.

Amison, who has been held in the county jail since December on a $1 million bond, wore a mask at the defense table. Some in the courtroom also wore face coverings, and as testimony started Tuesday, Middletown Detective Jason Wargo testified wearing a face shield.

Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Brad Burress said during opening statements that Wallace was shot in both legs and an arm, but a gunshot to the chest killed him.

When police were called to the area of Casper Avenue and Iglehart Street about 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 6 they found Wallace’s girlfriend trying to render aid to the teen who was on the sidewalk. Wallace was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Burress said Wallace’s 17-year-old girlfriend will tell the jury that she had known Amison for several years and referred to him by his street nickname “AF.”

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Wallace and the girl had some problems with Amison in the days leading up to the shooting, Burress said. He said they included Amison breaking into a house and stealing some items, with some gunshots exchanged.

On the night of Wallace’s death, he and his girlfriend walked from Crawford Street to a friend’s house on Manchester Avenue. That route took them past Amision’s house, according to prosecutors.

After passing Amison’s residence, a car pulled up, and he jumped out with a gun in his hand, Burress said.

The girlfriend said she heard Amison say, “Ya’all thought this was over.”

“She saw a gun in (Amison’s) hand, and that is when she yelled for Zach to run,” Burress told the jury.

Defense attorney John Kaspar told the jury during opening statements he agrees what happened on night of Dec. 6 is “awful” and a young man lost his life.

“Where the prosecution and defense disagree are not on the facts, but the legal conclusions,” Kaspar said “After you listen to all the facts, I don’t believe you are going to find that murder has been committed.”

Kaspar asked the jury to listen to his questioning of witnesses and their answers adding, “context means everything.” He pointed to the anticipated testimony of Wallace’s girlfriend.

“My take on it is there’s holes, there are tremendous gaps in her testimony,” Kaspar said.

He told the jury the police did not get the whole story.

“His (Wallace’s) death was not a murder, it just wasn’t when you take in the full context of the facts presented to you,” Kaspar said.

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