Hamilton death penalty trial: Witnesses fear for their safety

As jury selection in the death penalty trial stemming from a 2016 shooting entered its second day, police officers were still looking for two witnesses who did not show up.

A jury was selected late Tuesday afternoon in the trial of Michael Grevious II, who is facing the death penalty if found guilty of aggravated murder for the retaliation shooting that followed a shootout at the former Doubles Bar in Hamilton’s West Side.

Grevious, 25, is also charged with felonious assault and having weapons under disability for violence at the bar.

Seven others, including three also charged with a capital offense, have all had their cases heard and are serving prison sentences.

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Before bringing just less than 100 potential jurors into the Butler County Common Pleas courtroom Monday, Judge Greg Stephens put on the record that there had been no plea deal from the prosecution offered to Grevious.

While the prosecution, defense and the judge questioned potential jurors, law enforcement officers were looking for two material witnesses who did not show up when issued a subpoena by the prosecution.

Assistant Prosecutor Brad Burress said he was concerned after two women who had been subpoenaed did not appear Monday in court.

By lunch time Tuesday the women had been located.

One woman cried as she stood before Stephens. The officer who took her into custody said she and her family expressed concern for her safety because of the magnitude of the trial.

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“You have nothing to be afraid of while you are here to testify,” Stephens assured her.

The judge told both women they were to return Thursday to testify and if they did not, another warrant would be issued.

“I will send people out to get you … we can do this the easy way or the hard way,” the judge said.

Both women said they understood.

According to court records, Grevious was part of the violence at Doubles, standing on a pool table inside the bar and opening fire, along with others.

In the end, Kalif Goens, who did not have a gun, was dead and his brother, Mondale Goens, was facing two felonious assault charges in the shooting of Katrina Price and Jariaus Gilbert.

Cornell McKennelly II shot and killed Kalif Goens, according to Butler County prosecutors.

During the same shootout, three other people shot and wounded members of the Gilbert family, according to court documents that said: Rodrick Curtis Jr. shot and wounded Tavaris Gilbert; Cory Cook II shot and wounded Orlando Gilbert, who was killed days later in the Central Avenue drive-by shooting.

After the Doubles Bar shooting, Grevious recruited Zachary Harris to kill Orlando Gilbert for $5,000, according to prosecutors.

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Harris and two ex-convicts, Tony Patete and Melinda Gibby, drove about 90 miles from Fairfield County, Ohio, to Butler County and spent several days driving around Hamilton in search of their target, investigators alleged.

Then on Aug. 3, a Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Gibby pulled up next to a black Ford Mustang occupied by Orlando Gilbert and Todd Berus. Patete, the front seat passenger of the truck, opened fire with an AK-47 multiple times, killing Gilbert and Berus, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said that Harris orchestrated the drive-by shooting from the backseat of the pickup truck.

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