Court docs: Gun was unloaded earlier at Hamilton party where man was killed

Credit: Journal News

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Justice for J. R. Boggs rally

Credit: Journal News

He ‘deserves to have justice for what happened to him,’ says mother of teen victim.

Family and friends of a teen shot and killed in December at a Hamilton home were protesting what they viewed as a lenient punishment outside the Government Services building Thursday before the court appearance of the woman who pleaded guilty to killing him.

Meanwhile, court documents say videos taken at the party where he was shot show the gun was unloaded earlier in the night.

Aerial Katelynn Brazzell, 21, was accused of killing Bennie Shaun Boggs Jr., 16, on Dec. 17. Boggs was shot at 1:20 a.m. at her residence in the 200 block of Cereal Avenue. She was indicted for reckless homicide with a gun specification in February by a Butler County grand jury.

Brazzell pleaded guilty in Butler County Common Pleas Court to the third-degree felony and the gun specification, which adds more time to a sentence, was dismissed. Judge Jennifer McElfresh set sentencing for July 29.

Reckless homicide is a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 36 months in prison. Brazzell remains free on $35,000 bond.

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Hamilton police say Brazzell was “playing with a firearm pointing it at the victim and discharged the firearm striking the victim in the head.”

Bennie Shaun Boggs Jr. and mother Stephanie Gill SUBMITTED
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Bennie Shaun Boggs Jr. and mother Stephanie Gill SUBMITTED

Stephanie Gill Boggs, Boggs’ mother, said in an interview with the Journal-News that the charge and possible sentence is not enough for killing her son.

“We are trying to get justice for him because nobody will even acknowledge him. My son didn’t deserve this, they’re putting him on trial when he’s the victim,” Gill Boggs said.

She said her son, whom she called “J.R.” was shot in the back of the head and “there is more to what happened.”

“She shot my son and killed him and she’s only looking at maybe probation or 36 months. He was 16 years old. He was still a child and deserves to have justice for what happened to him,” Gill Boggs said.

The mother and several others held signs outside High Street showing photos of J.R. growing up and stating “Don’t play with guns” and “My outrage can’t fit on this sign.”

She also made similar statements during the court appearance as emotions ran high with deputies surrounding the defendant and the victim’s family.

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Gill Boggs said she also does not believe the investigation was conducted properly.

“I just think more could have been done in how things were handled,” she said.

Aerial Brazzell, with attorneys, Kara Blackney, left, and Bill Gallagher, pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in the shooting death of J.R. Boggs Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Butler County Common Pleas Court in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Aerial Brazzell, with attorneys, Kara Blackney, left, and Bill Gallagher, pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in the shooting death of J.R. Boggs Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Butler County Common Pleas Court in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

“I really think that there’s more to this than what they are saying,” Gill Boggs said. “None of it makes sense to me.”

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said this case could have been indicted as a misdemeanor negligent homicide. Boggs brought the gun that killed him to the residence where five people, including Brazzell, met up, and “there is no evidence of animosity, hatred, argument or problems between him and the girl who shoots him,” Gmoser said.

A statement of facts read in court by Assistant Prosecutor Jon Marshall backed up reckless homicide charge.

Boggs and Brazzell made plans via social media to socialize on the afternoon of Dec. 16. Photographs associated with the Boggs’ Facebook account show him already in possession of the Glock handgun with the green laser sighting, according to Marshall.

Videos found on cell phones of people at the party showed Boggs with the Glock and Brazzell.

“The videos show the magazine is not in the firearm, and further shows people including the defendant pulling the trigger of the gun, with no gunshot resulting,” according to the statement of facts.

At 1:05 a.m. on Dec. 17 a cell phone video shows Boggs making the following statements: “I took the magazine out of my Glock. I don’t want to accidentally shoot it. There’s a bunch of kids in the house and I am drinking.”

Approximately 30 minutes later Brazzell came into the room, picked up the handgun and pulled the trigger, fatally wounding Boggs.

“In her statements to police, the defendant said she believed the gun was still unloaded as it had been earlier. However, she also admitted she did not do anything to verify her belief the gun was unloaded,” the statement of facts states.

A woman is charged with reckless homicide for the shooting death of Bennie Shaun Boggs this morning in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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A woman is charged with reckless homicide for the shooting death of Bennie Shaun Boggs this morning in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF