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Published: Thursday, June 13, 2019 @ 12:01 AM
Updated: Thursday, June 13, 2019 @ 7:00 PM
DAYTON — A Kettering teen called a “monster” by family and friends of the Fairmont High School student he killed will serve about eight years in prison, but could spend less time behind bars with the case now returning to juvenile court.
Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Dennis Langer on Thursday afternoon gave Kylen Gregory 11 years with roughly three years’ credit for time served. Gregory had been indicted on murder charges for the 2016 killing of Ronnie Bowers, but was convicted of lesser offenses.
Langer reminded the 19-year-old, whose hands and legs were cuffed during a nearly three-hour emotional hearing, about “the horrible wreckage that you have caused” to the family of Bowers, who he called “a remarkable young man.”
The family of Bowers expressed disbelief after the sentence. Jessica Combs, Bowers’ mother, earlier called Gregory a “monster” who “chose to hunt humans with a deadly weapon.”
She said “only a maximum sentence would suffice” for Gregory, who she said “chose to make bad decision after bad decision” that resulted in the Sept. 4, 2016, shooting of her 16-year-old son, an innocent bystander the defendant did not know.
Bowers died two days later in what was Kettering’s first gun-related homicide since 2007. Combs gave a graphic account as she and her son suffered through his final hours.
“There was so much damage my son Ronnie couldn’t even live as a vegetable,” Combs said during a statement that lasted more than an hour and was often interrupted by her choking on tears.
“My family is beyond devastated,” she added.
Bowers’ father – who brought an urn carrying his son’s remains – said, “Everybody from my family to (Gregory’s) family has been devastated by this.”
During a brief statement to the court, Gregory accepted responsibility for his actions, apologized to the Bowers family and said he prays for the victim.
“I don’t believe I’m a monster … I do ask for forgiveness from his mom and dad and everybody I caused harm to,” he said.
Gregory was convicted in November by a jury of reckless homicide and discharging a firearm on or near a prohibited premise. The jury did not find Gregory guilty of murder and deadlocked on five felonious assault counts.
Gregory pleaded guilty in April to felonious assault charges that came with lesser penalties than he would have faced if convicted in a retrial that was scheduled for May.
The case will now return to juvenile court because Gregory was not convicted of murder, the charge that prompted the case to be transferred to adult court in 2017, Langer said.
Bowers’ family and friends pleaded with the judge to sentence Gregory to the maximum term, which Langer earlier said was 44 years. That was reduced to 41 years under agreement from prosecutors.
Gregory’s actions had “the awful, gut-wrenching, nightmarish impact” on Bowers’ family and friends, but Langer said he found the defendant “is remorseful.”
Prosecutors wanted Gregory to spend at least 35 years in prison. The defense on Thursday asked for minimum and concurrent sentences.
Langer said “35 years in prison or 41 years – that sentence would be (consistent) if this was a murder” conviction.
Specifically, Langer sentenced Gregory to the maximum eight years for each of the felonious assault counts, but ordered the punishments to run concurrently. Three more years were added for reckless homicide and discharging a firearm, charges which the court merged.
Gregory will be given credit for time served. He has been in juvenile detention since September 2016, held on a $1 million bond.
That sentence will be stayed while the case returns to juvenile court. Juvenile court may decide to keep Gregory in custody until he is 21 or return the case to adult court, Langer said.
Gregory testified in November that he fired a shot at Bowers’ car as the victim and three others sought to flee on Willowdale Avenue.
The shot, which Gregory said he fired to send “a signal,” wounded Bowers in the head and later caused his death, witnesses said.
It was the second time that night Bowers’ group tried to get away from a dispute involving Gregory’s friends, according to court testimony. The first confrontation happened at AlterFest, where Bowers’ group went after parking his car on Willowdale.
The disputes did not directly involve either Bowers or Gregory, according to court testimony.
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