Two of four people incarcerated for months and accused in the shooting death of a Middletown man in December 2018 have been released from jail, according to county jail and juvenile detention officials.
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.
The teen was charged with 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.
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.
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 jail information indicates the complicity to aggravated murder charge has been dismissed.
Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said 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.
“The law prohibits me from making any announcement concerning the issuance of a no bill or an indictment until the report is filed, that is number one. That is the law,” Gmoser said Tuesday.
“Number two, the law also says that … when the accused is not indicted … at the first time a prosecutor is aware that an indictment has not rendered and the no bill has been the result of a grand jury and the person under consideration is in jail, I am required to immediately seek their release, which I did at the earliest possible time.”
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 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 had no idea the accused were being released from jail.
“They released them. We didn’t get any heads up,” Arnold said.
Arnold said she learned of the release of the suspects on social media.
“We didn’t have an (expletive) clue,” she said.
Gmoser said today that his office did try to contact the Barefield family on Monday, but the phone number they had was no longer a good 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 this morning, the prosecutor said.
The family plans to meet with prosecutors tomorrow.
Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said “It is not over. Investigators will meet with prosecutors to go over things and go from there.”
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