Mother of slain Hamilton 16-year-old: Indictment ‘is starting a whole new journey in her case’

Sydney Garcia-Tovar, 16, had just graduated from Hamilton City School’s Miami School as part of an independent learning program when she was shot while behind the wheel on the night of July 23 at Tyler’s Creek Apartments.
Sydney Garcia-Tovar, 16, had just graduated from Hamilton City School’s Miami School as part of an independent learning program when she was shot while behind the wheel on the night of July 23 at Tyler’s Creek Apartments.

The mother of a 16-year-old Hamilton girl shot and killed in 2018 said an indictment in the case that was handed down Wednesday is both a relief and the start of a new, stressful journey.

Stephanie Garcia-Tovar, mother of Sydney Garcia-Tovar, said she knew it was coming soon, but hearing that her accused killer had been indicted made it real, she said.

“It wasn’t really a shock to me. When you actually see it, it’s more like, ‘Oh, crap’ it’s real and it’s on,” she said. “It is starting a whole new journey in her case. And it’s more raw, it’s like going back to the very beginning. The whole thing has taken a toll on me mentally, emotionally and physically.”

A man incarcerated in a state correctional facility was indicted for murder Wednesday in the 2018 homicide of a 16-year-old girl in Fairfield Twp., the latest high-profile, years-past case to see charges brought in Butler County.

Markeylnd Townsend, 22, is accused of killing Sydney Garcia-Tovar of Hamilton in July 2018 and firing at others in the vehicle she was driving.

He was arrested two weeks later on an unrelated aggravated robbery charge in Hamilton and sentenced in April 2019 to three years in prison on the second-degree felony. According to court records in that case, Townsend took money and marijuana from the victim, but he claimed the victim stole from him and he was attempting to take the items back when a witness saw the crime. Townsend attempted to hit the victim with a handgun, according to the 2018 Hamilton police report.

For Garcia-Tovar’s death, Townsend is charged with murder with a gun specification, which adds years to a sentence if he is found guilty. A felonious assault charge alleges Townsend fired a gun into a car full of people that included Garcia-Tovar at the wheel. Passenger Joseph Goolsby, 21, also was shot and has recovered from his injuries. The felonious assault charge also carries a gun specification.

Stephanie Garcia-Tovar said she is thankful for Fairfield Twp. police Sgt. Brandon McCroskey and his partner for the hard work during the investigation.

“Sydney’s case was not just another file on their desk. They worked relentlessly and they tried to keep me in the loop as much as possible,” she said.

The mother said her daughter did not know any of the people involved in what was happening the night she died.

“I know she had a brain because she was trying to get away …,” Garcia-Tovar said.

She added she is always “wondering what she (Sydney) could have been. It really hurts.”

Arraignment is set for May 5 before Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Greg Howard.

McCroskey said the investigation into Sydney Garcia-Tovar’s homicide remains active and that he cannot comment on whether investigators also are looking at anyone else.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said two groups of people are believed to have met up in the parking lot of an apartment complex for criminal activity and Garcia-Tovar was shot in the back of the head while she was driving away from the gunfire.

Garcia-Tovar was fatally shot at about 10:25 p.m. inside the car outside the Tyler’s Creek Apartments on Wildbranch Road in Fairfield Twp. She was flown to UC Medical Center in Cincinnati by medical helicopter and was pronounced dead the next day.

Townsend’s expected prison release date for the robbery charge is March 7, 2022. At a March 2021 parole hearing, it was recommended he be paroled prior to his prison term ending, which could have been up to six months before his expected release date.

Townsend petitioned Butler County Common Please Judge Michael Oster, who presided over his robbery case, for an early release. It was denied.

In Other News