Death penalty still on table in retaliation, murder-for-hire case

Top row, left to right: Zachary Harris, Melinda Gibby, Michael Grevious and Tony Patete are all facing the death penalty if convicted in connection with the drive-by shooting on Central Avenue on Aug. 3. Second Row, left to right: Cornell McKennelly, Mondale Goens, Rodrick Curtis Jr. and Cory Cook III are all charged in connection with the Doubles Bar shooting.
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Top row, left to right: Zachary Harris, Melinda Gibby, Michael Grevious and Tony Patete are all facing the death penalty if convicted in connection with the drive-by shooting on Central Avenue on Aug. 3. Second Row, left to right: Cornell McKennelly, Mondale Goens, Rodrick Curtis Jr. and Cory Cook III are all charged in connection with the Doubles Bar shooting.

The death penalty is still on the table for Zachary Harris, one of four defendants in a Hamilton drive-by shooting a year ago that claimed two lives.

And his trial will not be delayed.

Harris’ attorneys have said he is not mentally fit to be given the death penalty. They wanted to delay his trial and suppress his confession to Hamilton police. Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens denied all three.

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“He clearly comprehended the concepts of the deaths of the two victims, as well as the potential consequences he could potentially face, at one point even attempting to bargain his situation with Det. Webb before providing information,” Stephens wrote in his decision on the death penalty. “With these tactics, as well as the constant insistence of proving his innocence with the gunshot residue test and fingerprinting, defendant demonstrated a good level of sophistication about dealing with the events and the implications for him.”

Zachary Harris, 25, of Columbus, charged with two counts of aggravated murder for drive-by shooting that killed two people in Hamilton is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 23.
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Zachary Harris, 25, of Columbus, charged with two counts of aggravated murder for drive-by shooting that killed two people in Hamilton is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 23.

Credit: NICK GRAHAM / STAFF FILE

Credit: NICK GRAHAM / STAFF FILE

Michael Grevious II allegedly paid Harris, 25, of Columbus, $5,000 to kill Orlando Gilbert after a shootout in July 2016 at the former Doubles Bar. Investigators said Harris, Tony Patete and Melinda Gibby on Aug. 3 came to Hamilton and gunned down Gilbert and Todd Berus.

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Patete, the front-seat passenger of the truck driven by Gibby, allegedly opened fire with an AK-47 multiple times, according to court documents.

Harris’ two-week trial is set to start Oct. 23. Gibby pleaded guilty in August to avoid the death penalty. She faces 30 years in prison. The trials for Grevious and Patete have been continued until early next year.