Plea deal for convicted killer in Rowan Sweeney case in jeopardy

YOUNGS-TOWN — A filing in the criminal case against Kimonie Bryant in the 2020 killing of Rowan Sweeney answers a question that arose at the end of the February trial of co-defendant, Brandon Crump Jr.: Why didn’t Bryant testify?

The reason, prosecutors said, is because Bryant, 27, lied while entering into a plea agreement with prosecutors, who now want Bryant to face a longer prison sentence.

The prosecution and defense met Wednesday with Judge Anthony D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for a status conference on Bryant’s case. Bryant had been scheduled for sentencing, but that has been postponed.

The parties did not go on the record in the courtroom regarding what they talked about, but the parties did discuss the new filings in the case, according to the prosecutor’s office, and discussed setting new hearing dates in the coming months.


The prosecution’s document, filed March 29 by Jennifer Bonish and Jennifer Paris, assistant county prosecutors, states prosecutors want Bryant to get more than the 20-years-to-life sentence he was promised at the time of his plea.

The filing states when Bryant sat down with prosecutors and his attorneys Nov. 7 to reach a plea agreement, he lied about whether he ever got any of the money that was stolen at the same time of the killing.

When Bryant entered into his plea, he gave what prosecutors call a “proffer,” which is an agreement by a defendant to certain facts that he will testify to at trial. Such proffers are common in Mahoning County felony cases and involve a court reporter taking down a defendant’s statements to make it an official record.

In his proffer, Bryant said he drove Crump, 21, to the home on Perry Street in Struthers, where the killing took place, and Crump got out of the car. Crump was gone for two to three minutes. When he returned, Crump got in the car and Bryant drove away, it states.

While Crump was in the house, he killed Rowan, 4, and also seriously wounded four adults by shooting them in what started as a robbery, according to evidence presented at Crump’s trial.

“Crump mentioned that he may have shot someone,” the filing states, quoting from Bryant’s proffer. Bryant also stated he dropped Crump off at his home on Dewey Avenue on Youngstown’s South Side after leaving Struthers, and then Bryant drove to his home on Cassius Avenue on the East Side.

During the proffer conversation with former assistant prosecutor Mike Yacovone, Bryant said he never received any of the money Crump stole during the robbery and shootings. Bryant was supposed to get money the next day, but he was arrested the next day, the statement reads.

Bryant’s plea agreement required him to fully cooperate with prosecutors and testify at Crump’s trial if necessary, the filing states. That aspect of Bryant’s plea agreement was mentioned in December when Bryant pleaded guilty to aggravated murder before D’Apolito, the filing states.

According to archives from The Vindicator, D’Apolito asked Rowan’s father, David Sweeney, and mother, Alexis Schneider, if they were “satisfied” with the plea agreement, and both said they were.

D’Apolito then told Bryant he would sentence Bryant later to the agreed upon sentence “as long as you satisfy the conditions of the agreement.” The judge did not say what the conditions were, and prosecutors said they could not discuss it because of the gag order that was in place.

At the hearing, Bryant pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, and prosecutors agreed to dismiss all of the other charges against Bryant, including death-penalty specifications, removing the possibility that Bryant would get the death penalty.

According to the new filing, D’Apolito cautioned Bryant at the hearing that if he did not meet the conditions of his plea, “I will not feel compelled to adopt the recommendation.”


In preparation for Crump’s trial, prosecutors met with two agents of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and another person involved with the case. They discussed cellphone data that showed the locations of the cellphones of Bryant and Crump on Sept. 21, 2020, the night Rowan was killed.

The data indicated that instead of Bryant and Crump traveling from Struthers to Crump’s home on Dewey Avenue, their phones traveled to Bryant’s home on Cassius first.

A video from Crump’s phone also showed Crump flashing money shortly after the shootings, but the amount of money shown “appears to be less than the several thousand dollars witnesses reported” were stolen from shooting victim Yarnell Green that night.

Yacovone and Paris met with Bryant and his counsel to prepare for Bryant’s anticipated testimony at Crump’s trial.

“During that meeting, Bryant revealed that he and Crump went to Cassius and split the money that Crump stole from 111 Perry” Street, the filing states. That statement was “in direct conflict with the defendant’s claims in his Nov. 7, 2023, proffer that he did not see the stolen money again and that he and Crump were supposed to split the cash the following day,” the filing states.

“It became clear that (Bryant) lied during his proffer while under oath,” the filing states. “Because he lied, (prosecutors) informed the defense that it would not call (Bryant) as a witness at Crump’s trial,” and no statements from Bryant were used at the trial, the filing states. A jury found Crump guilty on all counts without Bryant’s testimony.

The filing cites several rulings that indicate that when a defendant such as Bryant fails to adhere to the terms of his or her plea agreement, it relieves the state of its obligations under the plea agreement.

Mahoning County prosecutors are not asking D’Apolito to rescind Bryant’s plea agreement, the filing states. Rowan’s family and the surviving victims “need closure,” it states.

But prosecutors “cannot stand idly by while (Bryant) lies to prosecutors and law enforcement under oath. The (prosecution) has a duty to present the court and jury with testimony it believes to be truthful,” the filing states.

Crump was convicted, so there is “no opportunity for (Bryant) to fulfill his obligations at a future time,” the new filing states. “Given (Bryant’s) breach, (prosecutors) are entitled to recommend a more severe sentence, just as (the prosecution) commonly does when a defendant commits a new crime between plea and sentencing or fails to appear for sentencing,” it states.

Have an interesting story? Email Ed Runyan at erunyan@vindy.com.


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