Teen charged with murder leaves court after trial

Both sides agree this Middletown teen shot and killed another teen. The question is: Why?

Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Mike Hon said Gonni White, now 17, shot Joseph Davis, 17, near the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Garfield Street during the late-night hours of May 29, 2018.

But during opening statements Monday afternoon in Butler County Common Pleas Court, defense attorney Tim Upton told the jury of seven women and five men he will prove the shooting was in self defense and the defense of others.

White is charged with murder with the specifications he used a firearm and was participating in a gang at the time of the shooting death of Davis.

White is being tried as an adult after the case was bound over to Common Pleas Court by Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Romans.

The trial’s events concluded around 4 p.m. Monday and is expected to resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, said Judge Noah Powers II.

The state expects to call the rest of its witnesses Wednesday and Detective Kristi Hughes is expected to be the final witness, Hon told the judge.

Hon described the scene on Woodlawn Avenue and “chaotic” and said there was “a lot of confusion.” When officers arrived, one woman was rendering CPR to Davis. He was transported to the hospital where he died. Davis was shot four times, Hon said.

He said the shooting was the result of two Middletown groups feuding for two days. The fighting began on Memorial Day at Douglass Park, continued the next night at Hill Avenue Market, and ended when Davis was killed, Hon said.

A 911 call was played and several times the dispatcher had to tell the caller to slow down because he was difficult to understand.

Officer Luke Agree testified he was one of the first officers on scene and there were about 50 people near the body of Davis.

MORE: Teen to be tried as an adult for fatal Middletown gang shooting

In January, following a hearing during which a tape of Middletown detectives questioning the teen was played, Powers ruled White’s confession will be permitted as evidence at trial.

Upton filed a motion to suppress the statement, arguing White’s rights were violated. In the motion, Upton said White was 16 at the time of the interrogation by police and was not accompanied by an attorney, parent or guardian.

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Assistant Prosecutor Brad Burress said in a written response that White was read his Miranda warning just seven minutes into the 60-minute interview with Hughes and Detective Steve Winters after they asked basic questions including date of birth, phone number and family history.

The prosecution said White voluntarily made statements and was not coerced by the detectives in any way.

MORE: Fatal shooting in Middleown: Teen suspect’s criminal past includes guns

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