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Cigarettes and soda: Defense questions interrogation of teen accused of murder

Published: Friday, August 10, 2018 @ 7:00 AM


            Zachary Welsh, 17, of Ross Twp., is charged with murder, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence for allegedly fatally shooting Austin Hensley on the evening of Jan. 30 at a residence on Hine Road. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Zachary Welsh, 17, of Ross Twp., is charged with murder, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence for allegedly fatally shooting Austin Hensley on the evening of Jan. 30 at a residence on Hine Road. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

A Ross High School student charged with murder will be back in court Friday for a hearing to throw out statements he made to detectives.

Zachary Welsh, 17, who is being tried as an adult for allegedly fatally shooting fellow student Austin Hensley, was declared competent to stand trial in June after two psychological evaluations, but his attorney Richard Hyde then filed a motion to suppress the teen’s statements.

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In the motion, Hyde says Welsh’s Miranda Rights were violated when he was questioned by police for more than four hours after the Jan. 30 fatal shooting on Hine Road.

Hyde says detectives plied Welsh with cigarettes and Mountain Dew to get him to talk.

“The defendant was 17 years of age and the state of Ohio is supplying him with cigarettes, and plenty of them, and Mountain Dew. The state allowed (Welsh) to smoke indoors, which is a violation of law,” Hyde said in the motion.

Additionally Hyde argued Welsh has autism, “and they knew it.”

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Hyde also says that Butler County Sheriff’s Office detectives asked additional questions after Welsh said, “I will do my time. I’m done.”

Prosecutors said in response to the defense’s motion that the premise is “simply not supported by the evidence,” pointing to the two psychological evaluations stating Welsh understands what is occurring. Prosecutors also pointed out Welsh signed a Miranda waiver card.

Hensley was found in a house with a shotgun laying against his temple. He died of one shot to the head, and police later learned the shotgun was not loaded.

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Butler County Sheriff’s Detective Joe Nerlinger said Welsh originally told him he shot Hensley in self-defense.

During later questioning, Welsh said he intended to rob Hensley of the shotgun, but when he went to “pistol whip” the teen, the gun went off, Nerlinger said. Welsh said he then wiped down the gun, washed his hands and stashed the .38-caliber in a hole in a closet of another room.

Welsh was indicted for murder, as well as aggravated robbery, felonious assault and tampering with evidence. He is being held in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $750,000 bond.

Because of Welsh’s age and the seriousness of the crime, the case was a mandatory relinquishment to adult court.

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