Teens facing murder charges in Butler County have court hearings

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

One may be moved to adult court.

Teens charged with murder were both in Butler County juvenile courtrooms this week for hearings that could lead to one case being transferred to adult court.

A 16-year-old West Chester Twp. girl was charged last month with murder for her alleged role in a deadly October shooting at a Fairfield hotel.

Fairfield police say the teen conspired with an accomplice, who was killed in the incident, to steal a firearm from occupants of a room at the Holiday Inn Express.

In the course of the alleged robbery, 18-year-old Kaaree Wade Hipsher-Burton of Cincinnati was shot and found dead during the early morning hours of Oct. 2 in a second-floor hotel hallway, according to police.

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Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the person who fired the shot that killed Hipsher-Burton was acting in self-defense.

“It was self-defense by the guy trying to protect his property and family with a gun pointed at him,” Gmoser said. “She (the teen girl) let the wolf in the door and she is chargeable for being complicit in a crime that got her conspirator killed.”

The teen appeared before juvenile court Judge Erik Niehaus on Wednesday on charges of robbery and burglary in addition to murder where another hearing was scheduled for Dec. 20. Niehaus ordered the girl to remain in juvenile detention until the next hearing.

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Gmoser said the prosecutor’s office will not request the case be sent to adult court for litigation due to the teen’s age, lack of criminal history and minimal involvement.

“There is no question that she participated in what happened to his fellow in getting killed by her conduct, but net result is her actual involvement was considerably less in the planning and execution of the whole thing,” Gmoser said.

Jordan Spain, 18, who is housed in the Butler County Jail, was in Niehaus’ courtroom Tuesday for a hearing to determine if murder case should be sent to adult court. Spain, who was 14 at the time of the shooting death of Sydney Garcia-Tovar, is charged with murder and felonious assault.

On July 23, 2018, Garcia-Tovar was fatally shot while behind the wheel of a car in the parking lot outside a Fairfield Twp. apartment complex. She was pronounced dead the next day. A second gunshot victim survived.

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Markeylnd Townsend, 24, was arrested two weeks after the homicide on an unrelated aggravated robbery charge in Hamilton and sentenced in April 2019 to three years in prison. While in prison, Townsend was indicted in April 2021 for murder with a gun specification and felonious assault. Townsend is accused of firing a weapon into a car full of people driven by Garcia-Tovar. He is awaiting trial in common pleas court.

The Journal-News does not typically name juvenile suspects unless they are tried as an adult, but it is happening in this case because Spain is now an adult.

According to juvenile court documents, Fairfield Twp. Police believe Spain is the person who fired the shot that killed Garcia-Tovar.

Spain “did shoot and kill Sydney Garcia-Tovar. Victim was shot in the head,” according to the court offense document signed by Sgt. Brandon McCroskey. The court document also accuses Spain of firing a 45-caliber handgun into Garcia-Tovar’s occupied car.

Prosecutors have requested the judge bind Spain’s case over to adult court. At Tuesday’s hearing, defense attorneys have asked for Spain to undergo a second amenability evaluation and he is scheduled to be back in court Dec. 16.

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