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Suppression hearing delayed for teen charged with killing her father

Posted at 9:19 AM, Jan 05, 2018

HAMILTON, Ohio -- A hearing to suppress statements made by a Hamilton teenager charged with allegedly shooting her father to death has been delayed until February, the Journal-News reported.

The teen, now 15, last appeared in Butler County Juvenile Court in October for a pretrial hearing. Her defense attorney, Matthew Fritsch, says the girl’s constitutional rights were violated during questioning while she was in police custody.

Fritsch also filed additional motions, including one to have his client undergo a psychological evaluation before the hearing and another to bar media from that hearing.

“The psychological assessment is being requested for purposes of allowing a licensed clinical psychologist to assess the defendant in order to determine any exculpatory evidence and expert testimony to be offered at suppression hearing,” Fritsch wrote in the motion.

Last week Fritsch filed a motion to have the hearing, scheduled for Jan. 12, continued because Dr. Paul A. Deardorff, who evaluated the teen, would be unavailable for the January hearing. The hearing is now scheduled for Feb. 26 before Judge Kathleen Romans.

In the motion for closure of the hearing to media coverage, Fritsch argued, “Defendant seeks to exclude the media from the courtroom during any and all pre-trial hearings where evidence is being presented or argued by counsel. The defense is seeking to suppress certain evidence that may, or may not, end up being excluded at the trial in this matter. Regardless of the outcome, if the media were permitted to attend and cover these evidentiary hearings, public dissemination of the subject matter completely defeats the purpose of suppression hearing and taints the prospective jury pool.”

Romans set a hearing for the same February date to permit media outlets to present evidence opposing the closure.

On Feb. 23, the girl, then a high school freshman, picked up a 9 mm handgun, loaded it and shot her 71-year-old father, James Ponder, in the head at their Millville Avenue home, according to police and prosecutors.

“I just shot my dad,” she told 911 dispatchers in a call placed moments after the shooting. She was arrested on the driveway of the family home when police arrived.

In the motion to suppress her statements, Fritsch said, “Defendant has had no prior experiences with Miranda warnings. During the interrogation, the defendant indicates that she has never heard of Miranda warnings and has never seen it on any television shows. The defendant also indicates that she does not know what it means to remain silent.”

The defense attorney said his client twice asked to speak with her mother during the first 15 minutes of being interrogated.

This news organization is not naming the teen because she is charged as a juvenile.

The girl is free on bond that was posted last month. She was housed in the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center for seven months until her mother posted the bond.

No motive for the shooting has been offered.

Prosecutors had requested the teen be tried as an adult, but Romans ruled the teen’s case will remain in juvenile court.

The Journal-News is a media partner of WCPO - 9 On Your Side.