Murder charges dropped in Struthers boy’s killing
YOUNGSTOWN — In a surprising move, prosecutors acknowledged Wednesday that they cannot defend against a motion asking that the aggravated murder, attempted murder and felonious assault charges against Brandon Crump Jr. in the Rowan Sweeney case be dismissed, and Judge Anthony D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court dismissed them.
They can be refiled later, the judge pointed out.
Prosecutors said they would ask their juvenile prosecutor to refile the murder, attempted murder and felonious assault charges against Crump in juvenile court to cure the defects in the way Crump was indicted in adult court without having first been bound over from juvenile court on those charges.
D’Apolito agreed with Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin’s assessment that dismissing the aggravated murder, attempted murder and felonious assault charges was proper to resolve the issue.
“I don’t think the court has any choice but to dismiss those charges that were not bound over — everything but the aggravated robbery and escape, let the state refile those down in juvenile court,” McLaughlin said. “We will go through the probable-cause hearing and bring those back up here,” McLaughlin said of common pleas court.
Crump was properly bound over to adult court on two charges — robbery and escape that are unrelated to the Rowan case.
But McLaughlin said case law does not support the way Crump’s bindover on robbery and escape and his later indictment in adult court on aggravated murder and felonious assault took place.
Crump, 19, is one of three men indicted on aggravated murder, felonious assault and other charges in the Sept. 21, 2020, murder of Rowan Sweeney, 4, at a home on Perry Street in Struthers, where he was staying with his mother, Alexis Schneider, and her boyfriend. Schneider and three other adults in the home also were shot during the episode, which Struthers police said appeared to have started as a robbery.
The two other men are Kimonie Bryant, 26, and Andre McCoy Jr., 21. McCoy is not in custody and has not been found since he left the hospital with wounds he suffered in the episode.
Crump defense attorney Lou DeFabio filed a motion last month asking that the aggravated murder and felonious assault charges be dismissed or sent back to juvenile court.
DeFabio cited a February ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that DeFabio said clarified that no charges, such as aggravated murder and felonious assault, can be considered in an adult common pleas court that did not get a probable cause determination in juvenile court and then bound over to adult court.
Judge Theresa Dellick of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court found probable cause that Crump committed an aggravated robbery in connection to the Rowan case and committed an escape from the Juvenile Justice Center while detained there on aggravated robbery. She approved bindover on those two charges.
The additional charges were approved by the grand jury in adult court a short time later at the same time Bryant and McCoy were indicted on aggravated murder and felonious assault. Officials have said Bryant and McCoy face the potential for the death penalty if convicted of certain offenses.
Crump was 17 at the time he was charged in juvenile court and 17 at the time of the alleged offenses.
Also during Crump’s hearing Wednesday, the judge provided an update on efforts to get information from personnel at Bode Technologies of Virginia, the private laboratory in Virginia that is testing the DNA that was retrieved from the Perry Street home.
The judge said the lab has indicated that the results of the testing will be provided Friday. McLaughlin said she believes the results will be provided to the prosecutor’s office, and she will provide them to the defense.
The judge and McLaughlin have said in the past they expect the results will provide more clarity on who entered the home and killed Rowan and shot the four adults. Initially, witnesses identified Bryant as the shooter, but some witnesses later said Crump was the shooter.