Suspects, victims in Hamilton shooting have prison records

The three people charged following a drive-by shooting Wednesday in Hamilton as well as the victims each have criminal records, according to court documents obtained by the Journal-News.

One of the victims had just been released from prison last Friday, according to court records.

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Melinda Gibby, 35, of Lancaster; Zachary Harris, 24, of Columbus; and Tony Patete, 23, of Newark, are charged with two counts of aggravated murder following a drive-by shooting Wednesday afternoon that left two 25-year-old Hamilton residents dead.

After the Butler County Grand Jury hears the case and if it convicts, it will be given specifications to consider the death penalty because there was "prior calculation" to cause death, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said.

Two years ago, Patete, 21, was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of community control after being found guilty of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a fourth-degree felony, according to Licking County Court records. Between May 16-17, 2014, Patete engaged in sexual conduct with a 13-year-old, according to court records.

He was ordered to pay all court costs and fees and have no contact with anyone under the age of 18. Patete was also classified as a Tier II sexual offender.

Gibby was indicted by the Fairfield County Grand Jury on one count of possession of crack cocaine in 2005, and two counts of possession of crack cocaine and three counts of trafficking cocaine later that year, according to court records. She was sentenced to a four-year jail sentence.

In 2009, Harris was charged with kidnapping, two counts of aggravated robbery and four counts of robbery in Franklin County, records show. He was released from prison earlier this year after serving six years and is currently on probation.

On Thursday morning, Gabby, Patete and Harris were ordered held on $10 million bond each, but the Hamilton Municipal Court judge decided to hold them without bond, according to court records. They remain in the Butler County Jail, according to jail records.

The victims of Wednesday’s shooting also have criminal records, according to court documents.

Orlando Gilbert and Todd Berus, both of Hamilton, were sitting in a black Ford Mustang on Central Avenue when the alleged shooters pulled up next to them Wednesday and opened fire.

Gilbert was pronounced dead at the scene and Berus died Wednesday night at Fort Hamilton Hospital, police said.

Both died from gunshot wounds and their deaths were ruled homicides, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office.

Gilbert was on parole at the time of his death. He was released in February after spending six years in prison for aggravated robbery.

Berus was also on parole at the time of his death. He spent six months in prison on a retaliation charge and just got out last Friday. Berus had previously served three years for felony assault.

Hamilton Police Capt. Marc McManus said the two victims were “targeted” and he stressed Wednesday’s drive-by shooting was not random.

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