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Judge to issue gag order in trial for 4-year-old’s murder

Bryant accused in death of Struthers 4-year-old

YOUNGSTOWN — The judge in the Kimonie Bryant aggravated murder case said Tuesday he will sign a “gag order” to be jointly filed by the prosecution and defense, ordering that parties in the case not talk about the Rowan Sweeney murder outside of court.

Bryant, 24, is charged with killing 4-year-old Rowan and shooting four adults in a home on Perry Street in Struthers on Sept. 21, 2020.

Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa told Judge Anthony D’Apolito that prosecutors noticed “promotional things we saw on the TV yesterday and today,” causing them to seek a gag order. She said prosecutors and defense attorneys expect to submit a proposed order this week.

“I will sign that once it gets to me,” the judge said in reply.

Rowan’s mother, Alexis Schneider, is one of the four adults who was shot. She was holding him when the boy was shot twice, according to court documents.

‘CHECK ME OUT’

Schneider’s Facebook page on Tuesday said to “check me out” on a local television station with a #JusticeForRowan hash tag.

She and her boyfriend, Yarnell Green Jr., then gave an interview to 21-WFMJ-TV.

“It’s very difficult to even think about the future. It’s kind of just getting through the day,” she said in last night’s broadcast. “Waking up every day and not having your child there is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.”

She has had a lot of difficulty emotionally since the shooting. “The PTSD, the trauma. I witnessed my own son dying, and I just see the memories a lot. They just come out of nowhere,” she said.

She and Green also have physical injuries that need to heal.

“I got shot twice in the arm,” she said. “It broke my bone twice, so I have a complete metal rod in here and a bunch of pins, permanent damage on my arm. It’s completely numb. I can’t feel it. I’m in physical therapy right now.”

Green was hit by eight gunshots as he tried to lead the gunman out of the house. “We just want justice,” Green said during the interview.

Schneider told WFMJ that she credits the support of the community for helping her cope with the loss of her son.

“When I feel like I’m having a super bad moment, I just hold on to the fact that the whole community is supporting me, wants to see me up. I just keep holding onto my faith.”

INTEREST WILL GROW

The judge said he expected interest in the case to grow as it progresses. It is set for trial Sept. 13. He said the order will make sure “all parties are aware that they are not to talk to the media in this case.”

He said everything that happens in open court can be reported on, “but other than that, I will try to limit that as best I can.”

Meanwhile, D’Apolito also approved a motion by the defense asking the judge to state on the record the reasons for denying any defense motion.

Defense attorney John Juhasz stated that he made the request because this is a potential death-penalty case, and “whether he is sentenced to death or not, there will be an appeal.”

Prosecutors last week filed a memo objecting to the motion, arguing it was “unsupported by any case law.” Having the judge do this will “place an undue burden on the court and court personnel,” prosecutors argued.

Furthermore, the criminal rules of procedure already provide this protection, prosecutors stated.

In Tuesday’s hearing, the judge expressed some concern that granting the motion could lead to another basis for appeal, but he said it is just a reminder to him that “every word” will be reviewed and scrutinized.

erunyan@tribtoday.com

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