Middletown teen guilty of murder in 17-year-old’s shooting death

A Middletown teenager accused in the death of another 17-year-old last year has been convicted of murder.

The jury deliberated for less than two hours in the case of Gonnii White, who was charged with murder with the specifications he used a firearm and was participating in a gang at the time of the shooting death of Joseph Davis in May 2018. Those specifications were included in Thursday afternoon’s guilty verdict.

White’s attorney said he plans to appeal.

Judge Noah Powers II set sentencing for July 15. White faces a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 19 years.


Gonnii White, shown on social meeting allegedly holding a gun, said he never shot a weapon until May 29, 2018.

That night, White said he saw Joseph Davis, 17, of Middletown reach for something in his waistband, and since he “feared” for his life, he fired one warning shot in the air.

He then closed his eyes and “started shooting,” White, 17, testified today during the third day of his murder trial before Judge Noah Powers II in Butler County Common Pleas Court.


Dr. Mary Goolsby, Montgomery County deputy coroner, has testified Davis died from multiple gunshot wounds and the manner of his death was homicide. He said Davis was shot in the neck, back, thigh and buttocks.

Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Brad Burress noted Davis was shot four times, and when he asked White about his accuracy the first time firing a gun, White said, “Lucky.”

White, of Middletown, is charged with murder with the specifications he used a firearm and was participating in a gang at the time of the shooting death of Davis. White has admitted to the shooting, and defense attorney Tim Upton contends the shooting was in self defense and the defense of others.

He is being tried as an adult after the case was bound over to Common Pleas Court by Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Romans.

After the jury left the courtroom this afternoon, Assistant Prosecutor Mike Hon asked the judge not to allow the jury to consider the self defense because the defense provided no evidence. But Powers II said he would allow the jury that option.

The attorneys are expected to make their closing arguments later today.

White said in May 2018 there was a fight and shots were fired at Douglass Park near his Middletown home. White said he was given a gun by a friend and he took the gun home on May 28, 2018. He never told his mother about having the gun and why he needed a gun, he testified.

The next day, White put the gun in his pocket and carried it the rest of the day, he testified.

While walking near the area of Woodlawn Avenue and Garfield Street, White said he ran into Davis, who was riding a bike. White said he had seen Davis with a gun four or five times over the years, so when Davis reached for something, White shot, he testified.

“He seen us coming after him,” White said. “I thought he was armed.”

When questioned why he needed to shoot, White said he couldn’t “run from a bullet.” He said he never intended to shoot Davis that night.

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