An attorney for a Middletown teen charged with allegedly shooting another teen to death in a gang-related violence wants his client’s confession to police thrown out a trial.
Gonnii White, now 17, was indicted in September by a Butler County grand jury for murder with the specifications that he used a firearm and was participating in a gang at the time of the shooting death of Joesph Davis, 17, near the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Garfield Street during the late-night hours of May 29.
The indictment came a month after the teen’s case was bound over to Butler County Common Pleas Court by Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Romans.
White, who is being held in lieu of a $750,000 bond, is scheduled to stand trial March 6 in Butler County Common Pleas Judge Noah Powers II’s courtroom. In December, White was appointed a new attorney after his first attorney discovered a conflict and requested to withdraw from the case.
The new defense attorney, Timothy Upton, filed a motion last week to suppress White’s statements to Middletown detectives because he says his 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.
“Defendant was questioned for a few minutes before he was read his Miranda warning. Detective (Kristi) Hughes told him he was probably familiar with Miranda rights from watching television,” Upton wrote in the motion.
He said the detective quickly read White his rights then flipped over the card at showed him where to sign.
“At no point did Detective Hughes ask if (White) understood his Miranda warning or the effect of waiving his rights,” Upton wrote.
The motion also states White was encouraged to confess in order to receive favorable consideration with his charges or a “kind word” at sentencing.
During the 26-minute interrogation, White denied any direct knowledge of involvement in the incident, but that changed when Detective Steve Winters made various statements suggesting that the shooting was justified and the defendant was acting in self-defense, the motion states.
A hearing on the motion to suppress has been scheduled for Feb. 4.
Hughes, who was at the fatal shooting scene, testified during a previous hearing that Davis was shot four times in the neck, thigh, shoulder and buttocks.
“He (White) did state he was the one who shot Mr. Davis,” Hughes said. “He stated when he saw Mr. Davis, he thought he was reaching for a gun and began shooting.”
Hughes testified that she is trained in the investigation of gangs. She said she was able to determine White is a regional member of a Crips gang called the Roadrunners.
White’s Facebook page and his cellphone contained images of him making gang signs and wearing blue (the Crips gang color) as well as Crips quotes and the Crips prayer, Hughes said.
Davis was a member of a rival gang, the Bloods, according to Hughes.
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