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3 suspects not indicted in fatal shooting of well-known Middletown man

Benny Barefield.
Benny Barefield.

A Butler County grand jury report released on Wednesday indicates three people charged in a December fatal shooting in Middletown have not been indicted.

County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser told the Journal-News on Tuesday that two of the suspects had been released from custody on Monday, but that he could not comment about the status of the grand jury report until it was officially filed on Wednesday.

A 17-year-old, whose case was sent to adult court earlier this month for trial, was released from the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center about 3:30 p.m. Monday, according to Ron Clevenger, court administrator. He was not indicted on charges of aggravated murder and participating in a criminal gang for the Dec. 14 murder of Benny Barefield while he sat in his car at Ninth Avenue and Yankee Road.

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Quanteriaus Keith, 21, who was charged with aggravated murder, participating in a criminal gang, tampering with evidence and having weapons under disability, was released from the county jail at 1 p.m. Monday, according to Butler County Sheriff’s Lt. Nick Fisher. He was not indicted by a grand jury on the charges.

Dwight Bailey III, 21, who was charged with complicity to aggravated murder as well as a probation violation and an aggravated robbery charge in an unrelated case, remains in jail on the last two charges, but he was not indicted on the complicity to aggravated murder charge.

Gmoser said Tuesday he could not release the results of a grand jury until those results are officially filed with the county clerk of courts office. That release happens in Butler County on Wednesdays.

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The fourth person accused, Daniel Fitzgerald, 21, has not been taken into custody. A warrant for Fitzgerald’s arrest on charges of complicity to aggravated murder and participating in a criminal gang was issued on Jan. 1 in Middletown Municipal Court. The status of that warrant says “unavailability of the accused.”

The teen, Keith, Bailey II and Fitzgerald were accused of conspiring to kill the 48-year-old father of 10 children.

Dia Arnold, Barefield’s sister, said the family just wants justice and didn’t know the accused were being released from jail.

“We need people to speak up so they can get more evidence so they can put these boys in jail … they need more evidence,” Arnold said.

On Tuesday, Arnold said the family was not informed about the suspects’ release on Monday. Gmoser said Tuesday that his office did try to contact the Barefield family on Monday, but the phone number they had was no longer a working number.

“My victim advocate tried all day by calling and and text and was not successful,” Gmoser said.

They did obtain a number of a second family member and they were successfully notified Wednesday morning, the prosecutor said.

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