2 notable Butler County trials delayed by coronavirus caution

By court order, trials have been continued for 30 days, and courts are making attempts to move cases “by paper” limiting large crowds in courtrooms.

Two trials scheduled to begin in the next two weeks have been continued until later in the summer.

Michael Smith Jr.

Smith Jr., 17, who is being tried as an adult, was indicted in September by a Butler County grand jury for murder and tampering with evidence for allegedly shooting Shon Walker to death in June. His trial was scheduled to to begin Feb. 24 in Butler County Common Pleas Court, but the defense filed a motion requesting a continuance, citing new information in the case.

MORE: Teen charged in Hamilton fatal shooting to be tried as an adult

Judge Greg Stephens rescheduled the trial for today, but the date was vacated due to the virus outbreak. Smith’s trial is now scheduled for June 22.

Walker, 19, was shot point-blank just after 9 p.m. on June 27, 2019 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.

The incident was caught on video, and a witness identified Smith as the “shooter,” according to court documents. He is being held in lieu of a $2 million bond

Brandon Levi Gilbert

A sixth trial date has been set for Gilbert, who is charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a 21-year-old Miami University student.

Gilbert, 22, who lived in Oxford at the time of the incident, is charged with rape, attempted rape, two counts of kidnapping and felonious assault for the incident that allegedly occurred Sept. 29, 2018, in Oxford. His trial was scheduled to begin on Jan. 13, 2020, but the defense requested a continuance, the fourth in the case, due to an issue with the availability of an expert witness.

MORE: Miami University student attacked, suspect charged with rape

The continuance was granted by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard, and the trial was rescheduled for today. Gilbert’s new trial date is Aug. 30.

Gilbert is free on bond and has been ordered by the judge to remain on a GPS monitoring system, report to his pre-trial services officer weekly in Hamilton and be excluded from Oxford and Miami University.

An Oxford police officer described hearing “blood cur(d)ling screams” just before seeing a Miami University student wearing only one shoe run toward him early on the morning of Sept. 29.

The student told the officer that a man had thrown her to the ground and had punched her so many times in her right ear that she was having trouble hearing out of it.

While being attacked, the woman said she saw the lights from in officer’s police cruiser, which was stopped nearby as he wrote a ticket for a vehicle registration violation.

She later identified Gilbert, whom police stopped nearby on East Central Avenue, as her alleged attacker.

MORE: 54 people indicted in Butler, Warren counties

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