Death penalty sought in killing of Bryce Linebaugh, 8; Gains hopes case serves as a deterrent

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains said he hopes the death-penalty indictment handed up against a 21-year-old city man charged with the murder of an 8-year-old boy serves as a deterrent to others who consider shooting into occupied homes.

A Mahoning County grand jury handed up an indictment Thursday against Shawn R. Wilson of Browning Avenue on charges of aggravated murder of a child under 13, felonious assault, murder, tampering with evidence and improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation.

There are firearm specifications attached to the charges of murder and discharging a firearm into a habitation, which can carry up to an additional three years in prison on each count.

Bryce Linebaugh was killed in the early hours of Aug. 20 as he slept in a bunk bed at his Maplewood Court home in Rockford Village on the city’s East Side.

If convicted of aggravated murder, Wilson could be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Gains said the case should serve as a warning to others.

“I can only pray that young people learn to control their anger. They have to realize that you just have to walk away,” he said. “We prosecute these offenses and will continue to do that.”

Gains said the felonious-assault charge stems from a 4-year-old boy’s being hit by flying glass as he was sleeping in the same room as Bryce.

The tampering-with-evidence charge stems from Wilson’s attempt to hide weapons used in the crime, Gains said.

Prosecutors said an individual was seen leaving Wilson’s residence carrying what appeared to be firearms. Police recovered an assault rifle that is believed to be the murder weapon in a wooded area next to Wilson’s Browning Avenue residence shortly after the shooting.

That assault rifle, along with other evidence, will be sent to the state crime lab for analysis.

Gains said the investigation into the case shows that Wilson had been involved in an altercation with a resident at a home adjacent to Bryce’s residence.

Wilson returned to the area, armed with an assault rifle after the initial altercation, and fired multiple shots into Bryce’s home while seated in his car, prosecutors said. Slugs hit the boy in the head.

Wilson had been convicted of improperly handling a firearm in 2009. Earlier this year, he was charged with violating his probation in that case.

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