Lawyer wants evaluation for Middletown teen charged with murder

The attorney for a Middletown teen charged with murder and participating in a criminal gang wants Friday’s hearing that could result in the case moving to adult court postponed.

A 16-year-old boy is charged with murder and participating in a criminal gang for the shooting death of Joseph Davis, 17, near the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Garfield Street during the late night hours of May 29.

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A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Friday before Butler County Juvenile Judge Kathleen Romans. If Romans rules after the hearing that there is probable cause that the teen committed the crimes, the case will automatically be moved to adult court, according to Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser.

That’s because of the age of the suspect and the level of the crime, he said.

Defense attorney Dawn Garrett has filed a motion asking for a stay in the probable cause hearing and asking for the teen to evaluated before the probable cause hearing takes place.

The issues raised in Garrett’s motion will be addressed at Friday’s court hearing.

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In the motion obtained by the Journal-News, Garrett said the evaluation is needed for two purposes.

“First, it is necessary to determine if the child is competent to aid in his defense and to participate in a probable cause hearing. If not then per his constitutional rights, such hearing cannot proceed unless and until such time as the child is rendered competent,” Garrett said in the motion. “Second, it is necessary to determine if the child was competent to waive his Miranda rights when he was questioned without counsel, without parent present and without parental consent.”

The attorney said the teen is “low functioning specifically with regard to reading, writing, comprehension and expression.” Thus, the teen did not comprehend he had the right to refuse questioning by police and he was not capable of giving informed and voluntary waiver of Miranda rights, she said in the motion.

Middletown police officers say the defendant is a known member of the Road Runner Gang.

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“Defendant was also present with known gang members both prior and during this homicide. (Defendant) was interviewed and admitted to the shooting,” according to juvenile court documents.

The boy has been held in the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center since the fatal shooting.

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