FOLLOW LIVE: Middletown teen murder suspect testifies in his own defense

The Middletown teen charged with murdering another teen is testifying in his own defense this morning during his trial.

Gonnii White is charged with murder with the specifications he used a firearm and was participating in a gang at the time of t he shooting death of Joseph Davis, 17, on May 29, 2018.

Follow our reporter in the courtroom:


When Middletown polive Detectives Kristi Hughes and Steve Winters interviewed a Middletown teen the day after Joseph Davis was shot and killed, the suspect initially said he wasn’t “at the crime scene.”

Later, he said he was at home texting his girlfriend, then fell asleep.

Eventually, Gonnii White, 17, the murder suspect, admitted to detectives he was in the area of Woodlawn Avenue and Garfield Street last year, possessed a gun and said of Davis, “I shot him.”

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, 17, on May 29, 2018. He is being tried as an adult after the case was bound over to Common Pleas Court by Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Romans.

White told detectives he pulled a 9mm gun out of his pocket and shot Davis in the lower body. White said one of his friends gave him the gun hours before the shooting.

“I don’t know how to shoot no gun,” White said during an interview with Middletown detectives that was played Wednesday during the second day of the trial before Judge Noah Powers II in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

After the shooting, White gave the gun to a friend, he told detectives.

“Don’t like real guns,” said White, who said he shoots BB guns.

Earlier, a Middletown teen, who said he used to be White’s friend, testified he saw White shoot and kill Davis.

The witness, whom the Journal-News isn’t naming because he’s a juvenile, said after Davis fell off his bike, White shot him four times. The prosecutor’s office played a video of the teen being interviewed June 1, 2018, by Hughes and Winters and the teen said Davis was on the ground when he was shot.

“‘G’ started shooting,” the witness said during the taped interview.

But during cross examination, defense attorney Tim Upton noted the same witness wrote a statement to Middletown detectives that Davis was sitting on his bike when he was shot.

That version, Upton said, was “quite different” than what the witness testified when questioned by Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Brad Burress. To illustrate the scenario, Burress played the role of Davis, laid on the courtroom carpet as the witness said he watched as White fired multiple shots.

The teen told detectives that Davis didn’t have a gun, didn’t reach into his pocket and didn’t have a cell phone at the time of the shooting. He said he was 5 to 10 feet from White during the shooting.

During opening statements, Upton told the jury he will prove the shooting was in self defense and the defense of others.

During the questioning at the police station, the teen’s attorney, David Washington, was present. Washington asked his client if he saw Davis point anything at White to indicate the shooting may have been in self defense. He said no.

Washington told his client: “Tell them what happened.”

The witness said he used to be friends with White, but they no longer “hang together.”

After the shooting, the witness said he was in “fear” so he ran home. He never called Middletown police because he was “scared,” he told prosecutors.

Dr. Mary Goolsby, Montgomery County deputy coroner, testified Davis died from multiple gunshot wounds and the manner of his death was homicide. He said Davis was shot in the neck, back, thigh and buttocks.

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