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Jury verdict: reckless homicide, not murder, in death of Ronnie Bowers

Published: Friday, November 09, 2018 @ 6:05 PM
Updated: Friday, November 09, 2018 @ 9:40 PM

A jury returned a verdict of reckless homicide, and not murder, in the 2016 shooting of 16-year-old Ronnie Bowers, the Kettering Fairmont High School junior:

  • Kylen Gregory, 18, was accused of 2 counts of murder, 5 counts of felonious assault and a weapons charge
  • The jury also convicted him on the weapons charge, but could not decide on the assault charges 
  • Gregory could be retried on the assault charges. The prosecutor’s office will decide

UPDATE @ 9:43 p.m. (Nov. 9): The jury has returned an additional verdict of guilty on a charge of firing a weapon over a roadway, a charge for which Kylen Gregory could be sentenced to 11 years. The reckless homicide charge also carries a three-year sentence and a three-year gun specification, which will be added to his ultimate sentence.

>> Teen testifies shot that killed Kettering student was first time he fired a gun

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The jury told the judge they could not come to a unanimous decision on the five felonious assault charges. Each assault charge carries a three-year sentence. Gregory could be retried on the those charges. A decision on that comes later from the county prosecutor’s office.

Jon Paul Rion, Gregory’s attorney, said, "The jury did a great job today. There were a lot of very complex thoughts that they had to work through, a lot of emotion that they had to put aside to get to an accurate interpretation of the facts in the face of the law. 

“This is not a murder case and never was a murder case. 

“This is a young man who made a very big mistake. He did not intend to cause harm to somebody. He was trying to send a message. It was wrong what he did, there's no question, but it wasn't murder. The jury made the absolute right decision to come down on reckless homicide. It's what we asked for and we're very, very pleased."

Rion said Gregory is not guilty of felonious assault, either. 

"The intent, as wrong as it was, was to shoot at the car and not at a person," Rion said.

Ron Bowers, the father of Ronnie Bowers, said, “they say it’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by six. Ronnie was carried by six.”

Assistant prosecutors Lynda Dodd and Julie Bruns said they could not comment because of the unresolved felonious assault charges.

Gregory was remanded to custody.

EARLIER TODAY (Nov. 9):

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Dennis Langer excused the jury of nine women and three men about 11:45 a.m. after giving them instructions, which included allowing them the choice to consider reckless homicide if they could not agree on the murder charges in the Sept. 4, 2016, slaying.

In summations, county prosecutors said the evidence was enough to find 18-year-old Kylen Gregory guilty on all indicted counts.

Lead Prosecutor Lynda Dodd asked the jury not to believe Gregory's testimony that he wanted to send a message.

"He could have shot into the ground. He could have shot it in the air," she said in her closing argument. "If this is a message to scare, there's no reason to load it with a bullet." 

Dodd said Gregory admitted he stepped out of the car, pointed a loaded gun at Bowers' car and fired it. 

"That's not reckless. That's knowing," she said.

County Assistant Prosecutor Julie Bruns, co-counsel with Dodd, told the jury Gregory's thoughts and actions led to Bowers’s fatal wound, "liquefying his brain ... all because Kylen Gregory wanted to send a message." 

Bruns said Gregory's actions showed he acted knowingly.

"People in (his) car were looking for a fight and he had a loaded weapon on his lap "When the threat was gone, he stepped out of the car ... and pulled the trigger."

>> How Kettering teen came to be tried as adult and what took case 2 years to go to trial

In his summation to the jury, Gregory’s defense attorney, Jon Paul Rion, said, "Kylen Gregory had no emotional anger toward anyone. This really wasn't his fight."

Rion said, "this was supposed to be a fist fight at best.

"It was only one shot — not six shots into the car ... he just wasn't thinking," Rion said.

MORE COVERAGE:

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