One year later: No trial date for man accused in fatal shooting at Butler County Walmart

May 25—On May 26, 2022, two people were shot, one fatally, inside the Fairfield Twp. Walmart. The suspect accused of the slaying was allegedly trying to rob the store of cell phones.

He was arrested within hours after leading local law enforcement officials to search for him. He was apprehended at a Middletown hotel.

On Thursday, nearly one year ago to the day of the incident, suspect Anthony Brown was back in Butler County Common Pleas Court telling the judge he needed "a few weeks" to hire an attorney he could "work with."

Brown, 33, of Hamilton is charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, felonious assault and having weapons under disability for the double shooting that killed a customer at the Princeton Road store.

Earlier this month, Brown was in court for a pre-trial hearing, where Judge Dan Haughey set trial for Aug. 7. That's when Brown said he was not prepared for trial at that time, and the judge vacated the date.

Brown's first trial scheduled for this month was cancelled after his retained attorney withdrew from the case, citing irreconcilable differences. In January, after months of of legal motions and forensic psychological evaluations, Brown was declared fit for trial.

At Thursday's hearing, Brown's new defense attorney, Philip Stephens, from the Butler County public defender office, said their "relationship is okay. Not 100 percent."

Stephens said Brown is requesting time to hire a new attorney and he would stay on the case in the interim, but if a new attorney is not hired by the Brown, the court will have to look into appointing another attorney.

Haughey gave Brown until July 11 to hire an attorney and set a hearing for that date. There is no new trial date.

Brown is being held on $1.5 million bond, set by Haughey last month, based on public safety and the strength of the prosecution's case. The suspect requested Haughey set bond at $400,000, 10 percent rule, so that his family could afford to post bond.

Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Katie Pridemore said the weight of evidence, including a note passed to the store clerk, a mask and the alleged murder weapon found at the time of Brown's arrest, points to the need for substantial bond.

Brown was caught on multiple Walmart store clips on May 26, 2022. First he was seen being dropped off by his father and walking into the store, according to prosecutors.

"Brown's entire interactions were caught on video at the electronics counter, where for 22 minutes he tried to steal iPhones, where he passed a threatening note to the employee and where he ultimately pushed and shoved the electronics employee and fled with multiple phones," Pridemore wrote.

There is video of Brown running through the store trying to get away; he is on video in the produce section where he shot both innocent victims, and finally, there is video of him fleeing the store, according to prosecutors.

When the license plate on the suspected getaway vehicle returned to Brown's father, he confirmed he took his son to the store and identified Brown through still photos from the video, according to prosecutors.

"The father also confirmed his son's cell number, and law enforcement used that information to find Brown's location, hiding out in a hotel room in Middletown," Pridemore wrote.

When police went to the hotel room, Brown jumped out a window with the murder weapon in his hands and tried to flee, but was apprehended, according to prosecutors.

Brown is accused of shooting and killing Adam Black, 35, a Hamilton man who had recently moved to the area and who just learned he was going to be a father. Brown also is accused of shooting and wounding Eric Ruff, 57, of Fairfield, a Walmart employee who survived.

A SWAT team took Brown into custody at a Fairfield Inn in Middletown several hours after the shooting.

Brown is also accused of robbing an employee at gunpoint at Minnick's Drive Thru on Dixie Highway on Oct. 15, 2021, taking cash and lottery tickets. He was out of jail on a $200,000 bond for that alleged crime at the time of the Walmart shooting. That case is still pending and he also has a new court-appointed attorney in that case.

------

MORE ONLINE

See photos from the night of the Walmart shooting that happened one year ago.

journal-news.com