Suspect in killing of 8-year-old Bryce Linebaugh sobs in court

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


Shawn Wilson is facing the death penalty, accused of shooting into an apartment building and killing an 8-year-old boy as he slept in his bed.

But the 21-year-old man did not have the appearance of a killer as he stood Friday before a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge.

Wilson, shackled and wearing handcuffs, began crying moments before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum took the bench and did not stop throughout the hearing. Deputies had to hand Wilson tissue as he struggled to compose himself.

He is charged in the murder of Bryce Linebaugh, 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. A grand jury indicted Wilson on an aggravated-murder charge with death-penalty specifications.

Atty. Ronald Yarwood, representing Wilson, and assistant county prosecutors Rebecca Doherty and Dawn Cantalamessa were in court for rulings on pretrial motions from the defense and prosecution.

Yarwood filed 18 motions with the court in relation to various issues with the case against Wilson. Judge Krichbaum addressed each of those motions during the hearing, issuing rulings on most.

Several motions such as a request for juvenile records of some prosecution witnesses, information from police, a request for use of a private investigator, individual questioning of potential jurors, and to see and catalog physical evidence to be presented at trial were sustained, but there will be a future hearing to discuss at least one motion filed by the defense.

Yarwood asked to have a transcription of grand jury testimony and other matters concerning the grand jury prepared before trial. Krichbaum said he is not inclined to allow that without demonstration of a particular need, but he did order another hearing to address the matter within the next two weeks.

Tragedy has apparently been a part of Wilson’s life since he was young. He was barely 2 years old when his mother, 25-year-old Tonya Wilson, was gunned down on the city’s North Side in July 1992 by her husband, 25-year-old Robert Wilson.

According to witnesses, Tonya Wilson was sitting in a car on Stansbury Drive about 1 a.m. when Robert Wilson saw her and told her to go home. She told Robert Wilson she could not go home because two of her four children were at a baby sitter on Stansbury.

The witness said Robert Wilson walked over to the car in which Tonya was sitting and fired several shots into the car. One of the bullets hit the mother of four in the head, killing her. The couple was said to have had previous domestic issues.

Robert Wilson is in the Trumbull Correctional Institution where he has been since 1993 serving a 15-years-to-life sentence. Robert Wilson, as recently as 2011, filed a motion for a new trial, but the motion was overruled. His first parole hearing will be in March 2013.

The capital murder trial for the younger Wilson is slated to begin in mid- January.

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