No gang charge, but defense asks for gang expert in Hamilton fatal shooting case

Attorneys for a teen being tried as an adult for the shooting death of a 19-year-old in June have requested the court appoint a gang expert to assist in his defense.

But it’s not yet known why, because 17-year-old Michael Smith Jr. is not accused of participating in a criminal gang.

Smith was indicted in September by a Butler County grand jury for murder and tampering with evidence for allegedly shooting Shon Walker to death. The charges include gun specifications claiming a firearm was used in the crime, but there is no specification that the act was part of gang activity.

MORE: Records: Teen charged in Hamilton murder has been incarcerated 3 times before

Walker, 19, was shot point-blank just after 9 p.m. on June 27 in the 400 block of East Avenue. Hamilton police say Smith had a firearm and shot Walker several times, then concealed the weapon in his clothing and put it in a sewer in the area of 604 High Street.

In a motion filed Friday, Smith’s court-appointed attorney, Chris Frederick, requested the court appoint Lisa Taylor-Austin of Taylor Austin Group as a “gang expert” to assist in Smith’s defense. 

“In order to guarantee defendant a fair trial, it is essential that defense counsel be provided with assistance of all reasonably necessary experts. Defendant requires the assistance of an expert for preparation of his defense,” Frederick wrote in the motion.

He did not elaborate about how the gang element would be presented in the case.

MORE: Probable cause hearing set for teen charged with Hamilton homicide

A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, but it was cancelled.

The incident was captured on video, and a witness identified Smith as the shooter, according to court documents.

While binding Smith’s case over to adult court in August, Judge Ronald Craft also ordered Smith be moved from the county Juvenile Detention Center to the Butler County Jail because “there is great concern about his conduct while at JDC.”

Smith was arrested July 11, and the judge said that during his time at the detention center the teen was involved in a fight and made inappropriate comments to staff.

A trial date of Feb. 24 was set for Smith in November by county Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens.

Prosecutors declined comment about the expert request until a hearing is held.

Smith remains behind bars in lieu of a 2 million bond

Documents filed by the prosecution on Oct. 2 included more than 30 pieces of evidence, according to court documents.

Evidence includes 18 videos from various residences and businesses, five search warrants, photos of recovered firearms and clothing, and audio recording of the defendant’s statement.

MORE: Emotions run high after teen’s court hearing on murder charge

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