‘I just want justice’: Middletown victim’s family reacts after 3 charged in December shooting death

Two men and a teen have been charged charged in connection with the shooting death of Benny Barefield, a Middletown father of 10 children, on Dec. 14 at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Yankee Road.

Quanterius Keith, 21, of Cincinnati, faces aggravated murder, tampering with evidence, having weapons under disability and participating in a criminal gang for allegedly shooting 48-year-old death as he sat in his red Buick Lucerne.

Middletown police said Keith is a known member of the Road Runners gang and was caught on video approaching Barefield, 48, as he talked on the phone at about 10:30 p.m. in the 800 block of Ninth Avenue.

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“Video shows Quanterius Keith approaching the driver’s side door of the vehicle, shooting at Benny Barefield three times (and) causing his death. Quanterius then fled the area with the gun to a parked occupied car at Ninth and Main Street,” according to court complaint filed by Middletown Detective Kristi Hughes. “Upon entering the vehicle, Quanterius Keith told passengers that he ‘got him.’”

Keith was arraigned Wednesday morning in Middletown Municipal Court, where Judge James Sherron set his bond at $2.15 million. The judge told Keith the aggravated murder charge carries the possibly of the death penalty.

A preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 9.

Dwight Bailey III, 21, of Middletown, was charged with complicity to aggravated murder and aggravated robbery, which is in relation to a separate incident on Oct. 23 during which a pedestrian was robbed of his cell phone at gun point. According to court documents, police say Bailey conspired with known Road Runner gang members to kill Barefield.

Bailey’s bond was set at $2 million and his preliminary hearing was also scheduled for Jan. 9.

A 17-year-old male charged with conspiracy and participating in a criminal gang appeared in Butler County Juvenile Court Wednesday morning, and a magistrate ordered him to remain incarcerated at the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center until his next court hearing Jan. 9 before Judge Ronald Craft.

On Wednesday afternoon, police were continuing to search for a fourth suspect, Daniel Fitzgerald, 21, who is wanted for conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and participating in a criminal gang.

Jody Barefield, Benny’s sister, was in court for the arraignments and said she wants the suspects to face the death penalty “and no deals.”

“I just want justice. I want them all to go down together. No deals cut for nobody,” she said. “He can never come back, so I don’t think it is fair for them to get out on a plead deal or anything.”

Benny Barefield had his own run-ins with the law, but in recent years he helped many in the community and wanted to be a good father to his 10 children, some of whom are very young, Jody Barefield said.

“He did not deserve this at all. He was a good man. He e might have had a past, but he was a good dude,” she said. “He was getting older. He had grand kids. All he wanted to do was workout and take care of his kids.”

Aggravated murder can carry the possibility of the death penalty if certain legal specifications are met and must be considered by a grand jury first.

The investigation is ongoing, but Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said he isn’t taking anything off the table, including the death penalty.

Detectives believe gang activity is connected to shootings in the city over the past year or so.

Gonnii White, now 17, is being tried as an adult of allegedly shooting another teen to death last year in gang-related violence. The indictment charges White with 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.

Middletown Police Detective Kristi Hughes, who was at the fatal shooting scene, testified during a previous hearing 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 Road Runners.

White’s Facebook page and his cellphone contained images of him making gang signs and wearing blue (the Crips color) as well as Crips quotes and the Crips prayer, Hughes said.

Davis was a member of a rival gang, the Bloods, according to the detective.

Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said Wednesday that Middletown has a gang situation, it is not unique to city - it’s regional.

“What is sad is now you have got not just Benny’s life is gone, but you have got these 17 and 20 year olds today, they have families that some of them are really good people and people who care about them. That is three of families who are destroyed and for what? For nothing,” Muterpaw said.

He noted some of the young men involved in gang activity he knew as children.

“They were kids playing ball at Smith Park and stuff like that typical Middletown kids, but they go that route. It just sucks to see,” he said.

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