Fairfield Twp. shooting case to stay in juvenile court

A teen boy has been sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty in Butler County Common Pleas Court to shooting another teen in the parking lot of a Fairfield Twp. Walmart.

But he will not serve that adult sentence.

Today, Butler County Juvenile Court Judge Ronald Craft followed the recommendation of the probation department and sent the case to Hamilton County Juvenile Court for disposition.

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John Robbins, now 17, and a resident of Hamilton County, entered a guilty plea in adult court to felonious assault with a gun specification in August for a Jan. 20 incident in the Walmart parking lot on Princeton Road.

In September, Judge Jennifer McElfresh sentenced Robbins to three years in prison for the gun specification and four years for felonious assault. A charge of aggravated robbery was dismissed by prosecutors when Robbins entered the guilty plea.

Robbins, a Colerain High School student, was arrested by Fairfield Twp. police three days after the incident. Fairfield Twp. Police accused Robbins of robbing a 17-year-old and shooting him in the middle of a drug deal in the store parking lot.

The case was moved to adult court in March by Butler County Juvenile Court Judge Ronald Craft after he found probable cause for the charges. Because of Robbins’ age and the seriousness of the aggravated robbery charge, it was a mandatory bind over to adult court.

MORE: High school junior to be tried as an adult for parking lot shooting

But because that aggravated robbery charge was dismissed, the case was be returned to juvenile court, where Craft said today , by statute, it will remain in the juvenile criminal justice system. The case was moved to Hamilton County because that is where Robbins lives.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the decision was made not to ask the juvenile judge to return the case to adult court on the felonious assault charge, which would have been a discretionary bind over, because some of the evidence, thanks to the victims, was shaky.

“We learned that the victim witnesses in this case were less the credible, lied to police and destroyed evidence,” Gmoser said, noting the case involved drug dealing. “We realized the aggravated robbery would never be successful in adult court and it was best handled in juvenile court given the evidence we had and because evidence was destroyed by the victims.”

More than 40 letters of support for Robbins from friends, family and educators were submitted to McElfresh by the defense before sentencing.

Robbins could be sentenced to the Ohio Department of Youth Services until his 21st birthday, according to prosecutors. His attorney, Marty Pinellas declined comment.

The 17-year-old victim was shot around 3 p.m. Jan. 20 while he was in the driver’s side of a car in the Walmart parking lot. The shot teen accelerated his vehicle and struck other vehicles and a shopping cart corral, according to police. He was treated and released from West Chester Hospital.

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