Defense: Dismiss charge of conspiracy in case of Struthers boy’s murder
YOUNGSTOWN — Defense attorneys for Kimonie D. Bryant, who is charged with aggravated murder in the death of 4-year-old Rowan Sweeney, want the new conspiracy charge against Bryant dismissed.
At a hearing Tuesday, his attorneys said they want to present witnesses to address the issue at a hearing 2 p.m. July 13. A defense motion filed June 1 asking for the dismissal also includes a summary of how the defense believes the shooting unfolded.
Bryant, 23, is one of three men who face the possibility of the death penalty in the killing, which happened Sept. 21 at the Perry Street, Struthers, home where the boy lived with his mother, Alexis Schneider, 23.
The conspiracy charge was added in a March 25 superseding indictment against Bryant. It alleges he conspired with Brandon L. Crump Jr., 18, and Andre S. McCoy, 21, to commit an armed robbery at the Perry Street home.
It is a second-degree felony, punishable by about eight years in prison if convicted.
Crump and McCoy also were indicted on aggravated murder and other offenses March 25. Bryant was indicted in October in Rowan’s killing.
The June 1 motion argues the time has expired for prosecutors to try Bryant on conspiracy because prosecutors had only 90 days from when Bryant was arrested Sept. 21 to try him on the charge unless he waived that right.
Bryant waived his right to be tried within 90 days on aggravated murder and most of his other charges, but not the conspiracy charge, his attorneys, John Juhasz and Lynn Maro, argue.
Mahoning County prosecutors have not filed a written response to the motion, but Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Cantalamessa said during Tuesday’s hearing that prosecutors believe defense motions that were filed have pushed back the deadline.
She said prosecutors are calculating how much time the motions have extended the deadline. “But in the end, this motion definitely (extends) that time until at least we can” file a response, she said.
Juhasz told Judge Anthony D’Apolito there is case law that says that “anything you knew about at the time of the arrest that you could have brought charges on is the beginning of” the deadline, known as speedy trial time.
The June 1 motion also lays out a summary of how the defense believes the shooting occurred. It states McCoy and Cassandra Marsicola were at the Perry Street home to smoke marijuana with Yarnell Green and Schneider that night and there “appear to be reports that McCoy was there to sell drugs.”
At nearly 2 a.m., Rowan was in the room with the adults when an argument began between McCoy and Marsicola over Marsicola sitting in the middle of the room, the motion states. The door to the home “crashed open” and Crump “burst in, gun in hand,” it states.
The filing cites testimony given by Green in Mahoning County Juvenile Court that Crump, not Bryant, demanded the valuables in the house and “began shooting,” killing Rowan and injuring all four adults, who all survived.
The motion states text messages suggested to Struthers police within a day or two after the shootings that McCoy and Marsicola were “facilitating a robbery prior to the shooting at the home.”
Marsicola told police Sept. 30 that McCoy had intended to rob Green of cash and that McCoy was “always scamming people,” the filing states. Prosecutors have said that about $5,000 in cash was in the home at the time of the shootings.
The filing adds that Youngstown police informed Struthers detectives that a bullet shell casing from the Perry Street shooting matched a shooting scene on Ravenwood Avenue in Youngstown for which Crump was a suspect.
Green and Marsicola have not been charged.