Hamilton teen charged in father’s death waives right to hearing

A Hamilton teen charged with aggravated murder for allegedly shooting her father to death in February has waived her right to a probable cause hearing in juvenile court.. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
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A Hamilton teen charged with aggravated murder for allegedly shooting her father to death in February has waived her right to a probable cause hearing in juvenile court.. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

A Hamilton teen charged with aggravated murder for allegedly shooting her father to death in February has waived her right to a probable cause hearing in juvenile court.

The 14-year-old girl picked up a 9 mm handgun, loaded it and shot her 71-year-old father, James Allen Ponder, in the head, according to police and prosecutors. The homicide occurred on Feb. 23 at their Millville Avenue home.

After the shooting, the girl went outside and called 911, telling the dispatcher she shot her father.

In the 911 call, the sobbing teen says, “Can somebody come and put me in handcuffs? I just shot my dad.”

MORE: ‘I just shot my dad,’ Hamilton teen tells 911 dispatcher

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser has filed a motion requesting the teen’s case be moved to adult court.

Under Ohio law, a 14-year-old is not automatically tried as an adult when charged with serious crimes. It is considered discretionary and will be determined by the court.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Tuesday before Butler County Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Romans.

In a motion filed Thursday, the teen’s attorney Matthew Fritsch said his client, after engaging in “meaningful discussions,” waives her right to a probable cause hearing.

In such a hearing, the same as a preliminary hearing in adult court, evidence would be presented to the judge who would then determine if there was probable cause to support the charge.

Rob Clevenger, juvenile court administrator, said the motion would be addressed by the judge at the Tuesday hearing.

But the waiver does not mean the teen’s case will automatically go to adult court or to a grand jury for consideration.

Forensic evaluations of the teen and circumstances surrounding the incident must be done to give the judge information to consider sending the case to adult court, according to Gmoser.

“Ultimately it is up to the judge to make that decision,” he said.

MORE: Teen charged with father’s death

In a written statement last month, Gmoser said his motion “should not be considered as a final position advocated by the prosecutor. While transfer may be advocated as a result of the investigation and evaluation, no result can be advocated until all the relevant facts are known. The cart still does not go before the horse.”

“Upsetting and tragic,” Fritsch said about the case after a hearing last month.

He said the state wanting to take the case to adult court was “always a possibility.”

“We will continue to strive to keep the case here,” he said of juvenile court. “We think it’s appropriate to be here.”

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