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Teen to be tried as adult for fatal Middletown gang shooting

A 16-year-old Middletown teen will be tried as an adult following a hearing today in Butler County Juvenile Court. 

Gonnii White is charged with murder and participating in a criminal gang in the shooting death of Joesph Davis, 17, near the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Garfield Street during the late night hours of May 29.

The teen showed no emotion during the hearing in Judge Kathleen Romans courtroom, even after the judge bound his case over to common pleas court for prosecution.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Teen suspect in Middletown fatal shooting has criminal past that includes gun charges

“I am sorry that it came to this son, but this is how we have to proceed,” Romans said to White. The teen had been on probation since 2016 through juvenile court for having a gun and threatening to shoot someone in a Middletown neighborhood.

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White’s mother, who was asked to remove her sunglasses in the courtroom, sobbed when the judge announced the decision. A family member said, “We love you” as the teen left the courtroom in handcuffs and shackles.

Joseph Davis, 17, died in a shooting May 29 at Woodlawn Avenue and Garfield Street in Middletown. (PROVIDED)

Middletown Police Detective Kristi Hughes, who was at the fatal shooting scene, testified Davis was shot four times — in the neck, thigh, shoulder and buttocks. He was lying in a puddle of blood when she arrived on the scene and a bicycle and stuffed animal were nearby.

During questioning, Hughes said White admitted he shot Davis.

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“He (White) did state he was the one who shot Mr. Davis,” Hughes said. “He stated when he saw Mr. Davis, he thought he was reaching for a gun and began shooting.”

Hughes testified that she is trained in the investigation of gangs. She said she was able to determine White is a regional member member of a Crips gang called the Roadrunners.

White’s Facebook page and his cell phone contain images of him making gang signs, wearing blue (the Crips color) as well as Crips quotes and the Crips prayer, Hughes said.

Davis was a member of a rival gang, the Bloods, according to the detective.

Gonnii White is charged with murder and participating in a criminal gang in the shooting death of Joesph Davis, 17, near the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Garfield Street during the late night hours of May 29. (NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

Dawn Garrett, White’s attorney, pointed out while he was questioned by detectives he was lying across the table and appeared to be under the influence.

Hughes said she did not have a concern that White was under the influence, but he did have his head down on the table at times.

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Garrett also pointed out White was questioned by detectives without his parents present or notified. Romans said the teen’s mother was on vacation and his father “cannot be found.”

After binding the case over to adult court, Romans set bond for White at $750,000, noting the testimony that White may have been dealing drugs and may have been a member of a gang.

“I want to make sure this young man is available for trial,” Romans said.

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