“We have two major gangs in Middletown that have been fighting for several years,” Winters said.
He added he has investigated several homicides tied to the gang violence. The rival Middletown gang is the Road Runners. Hughes testified about Pawlowski’s alleged involvement in that gang.
Lipps set bond for Pawlowski at $500,000 and ordered that he be transferred to the Butler County Jail from the juvenile detention center.
Cameron Kyles, 18, who police say is the shooter, is awaiting trial after being indicted for aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, felonious assault and having weapons under disability.
A 15-year-old boy is the third co-defendant in the incident. He was in court for brief hearing before Pawlowski. The teen is also charged with murder, burglary and robbery. Prosecutors have also requested his case be sent to adult court. It will be up to the judge to make that decision after a probable cause hearing later this year.
Winters testified that through interview police determined Pawlowski and Kyles had been in juvenile detention together and were planning robbery incident.
“They talked about hitting a lick (a slang term for robbery),” Winters said.
MORE: Court docs: Third teen charged in Middletown murder made sure victim was home alone
Pawlowski drove to Stewart’s residence and parked in the alley, the 15-year-old went inside to make sure Stewart’s friends were not with him, Winters said.
Then Kyles was given a gun by Pawlowski and went into the house, and four shots were fire. Surveillance video in the house captured the shooter wearing distinctive clothing walking toward Stewart with a gun then taking items from Stewart’s body and the house, Winters said.
A participation in a criminal gang charge will be presented to grand jury for consideration in Pawlowski’s case, according to Assistant Butler Count Prosecutor Brad Burress.
Pawlowski shook his head several times during the hearing, especially when the gang involvement was mentioned.
Winters said a search of Pawlowski’s Middletown residence turned up a bag of marijuana, ammunition for a 9mm gun, clothing that the shooter was wearing in the video and counterfeit money, including some spotted with what police believe is blood.
About 20 feet from the Pawlowski residence, police found what the believe to be the “murder weapon” wrapped in a shirt and covered with brush, Winters said.
Pawlowski’s attorney, Jeremy Evan, pointed out that police had no evidence other than statements from co-defendants that he planned the murder or robbery. Evans said there are some statements that indicate Pawlowski drove the youngest teen to the house to purchase marijuana from Stewart.
Burress argued before judge made his ruling that it doesn’t matter if there was a plan to kill Michael Stewart, “there was a plan to rob him and he got killed, that’s felony murder.”
MORE: $1M bond set for teen charge with murder in Middletown