Teen accused in high-profile Middletown murder case again has hearing delayed

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Benny Barefield, 48, of the 800 block of Ninth Avenue, was found at 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 14, 2018 in his red Buick Lucerne at the corner of Yankee Road and Ninth Avenue. He was transported to Atrium Medical Center and pronounced dead, according to Middletown police.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A probable cause hearing for a 17-year-old charged with aggravated murder in the December shooting death of a Middletown man has been continued.

In addition to the murder charge, the teen is facing a felony charge of 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.

Earlier this month, charges against the teen were changed from complicity to aggravated murder to the murder charge, which delayed the hearing at that time.

MORE: Teen charged Middletown homicide has criminal past tied to drugs, gangs

On Thursday, the teen was back in Butler County Juvenile Court, where his attorney, Kim Bui, told Judge Ronald Craft that she had recently received discovery and more time was needed to review the evidence.

Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Brad Burress pointed to a binder of evidence and DVDs that has been provided in a timely manner to the defense, but did not object to continuing the hearing until next week if defense needed more time to review.

Craft at first said he would not continue the matter, noting the narrow focus of the hearing, but when Bui said she could be available on March 5, he relented.

“In the interest of justice and fairness, I will continue (it) one more time, I will not do it again,” Craft said.

MORE: Supsect scanning police scanner prior to stealing Middletown cruiser, police say

Due to the teen’s age and seriousness of the charge, it is was a mandatory bind over to adult court if Craft found probable cause. The hearing is now set for March 5.

Craft ordered the teen, who will be 18 in September, to remain in the county juvenile detention center until the next court hearing.

The teen and three men — Quanterius Keith, Dwight Bailey II and Daniel Fitzgerald, all 21 — are accused of conspiring to kill the 48-year-old father of 10 children. Police say Keith, who is charged with aggravated murder, pulled the trigger.

Middletown police say the four are either a part of the Road Runner gang or conspired with gang members in the killing and that the incident is part of a string of crimes in the city.

The teen has a criminal record with ties to drugs and gangs in juvenile court dating back to 2016, according to court records provided by Court Administrator Rob Clevenger.

Keith’s and Bailey’s cases are now waiting to be considered by a Butler County grand jury. Middletown police are still looking for Fitzgerald.

MORE: Suspect ambused officer to steal Middletown police cruiser, ram into another