Teen pleads guilty to murder charge in 2019 Hamilton shooting

A Hamilton man has admitted guilt in the shooting death of a 19-year-old last summer.

Michael Smith Jr., now 18, who was 17 at the time time of the slaying and is being tried as an adult, was indicted in September by a Butler County grand jury for murder with a three-year gun specification for shooting Shon Walker to death.

Smith’s trial was scheduled to begin Mondayafternoon in Butler County Common Pleas Court with jury selection, but he pleaded guilty Monday to the murder charge. The gun specification, which adds to the sentence, was reduced to one year. The tampering charge was dismissed.

Judge Greg Stephens set sentencing for Sept. 4. Smith faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 16 years.

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Walker, 19, was shot point-blank just after 9 p.m. on June 27, 2019, in the 400 block of East Avenue. Hamilton police say Smith had a firearm and shot Walker several times then concealed the weapon in his clothing discarded in the sewer in the 600 block of High Street.

The incident was caught on video, and a witness identified Smith as the “shooter,” according to court documents.

Because of the seriousness of the crime and Smith’s age, the case was a mandatory bind-over to adult court if probable cause was found by county Juvenile Court Judge Ronald Craft. That happened in August 2019 after Smith waived his right to a probable cause hearing.

At that time, Craft also ordered Smith moved from the county Juvenile Detention Center to the Butler County Jail because “there is great concern about his conduct while at JDC.”

Smith was arrested on July 11, and the judge said that during his time at the detention center the teen was involved in a fight and made inappropriate comments to staff.

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Smith has been held in the county jail in lieu of a $2 million bond.

Documents filed by the prosecution on Oct. 2 included more than 30 pieces of evidence gathered during the investigation.

Evidence includes 18 videos from various residences and businesses, five search warrants, photos of recovered firearms and clothing, and an audio recording of the defendant’s statement.

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