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Prosecutors say fatal 2019 shooting was a gang plot

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Posted at 11:21 AM, Aug 25, 2021

Cameron Kyles went to a Middletown house on the night of Oct. 12, 2019, and robbed, then shot, Michael Stewart II to death as part of a gang plot involving three others, according to prosecutors.

Kyles’ trial for aggravated murder in the slaying of Michael Stewart II began Monday in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

But the defense says Kyles, now 20, was a “patsy” to take the fall for those who conspired to rob Stewart.

In addition to aggravated murder, Kyles is charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, felonious assault and having weapons under disability in Stewart’s slaying on Ninth Avenue.

During opening statements in Butler County Common Pleas Court, Assistant Prosecutor Jackie Welp told the jury 35-year-old Stewart was a “Blood” gang member and Kyles and the co-defendants were “Crips” who planned to “hit a lick” or rob Stewart of cash and marijuana.

Camron Pawlowski, a 16-year-old boy and another teen hung out at Pawlowski’s residence on Bavarian Woods on Oct. 12 smoking marijuana and talking about the robbery, Welp said. After picking up Kyles, they drove to Stewart’s house, parked in the alley, and sent in the youngest of the four to make a buy and see if anyone else was in the house.

Then Kyles went into the house with a gun, shots were fired and Kyles ran out as Stewart lay dying, grabbing money and a baggie of marijuana, Welp said. They went back to the Bavarian Street residence, where Kyles took a shower and put his clothes in the washing machine. The gun, which Middletown police found, was ditched in the woods near the residence wrapped in a white shirt, according to prosecutors.

Welp said the teens divided up the money from the robbery and blood-stained dollar bills were found in Kyles’ possession.

“We know this defendant’s whereabouts on Oct. 12 to Oct. 13, because he was wearing a GPS monitor from a previous charge of participating in a criminal gang,” Welp said. She added that Kyles wanted to “earn his stripes” with the gang by committing the robbery.

Defense attorney Rodney Harris told the jury during openings, “Throughout Cameron’s life he has had a number of mental health limitations and challenges. He has been manipulated and mistreated. He was popular when they wanted a patsy."

Kyles was not trusted because he could not keep a secret and was not part of the planning to rob Stewart, Harris said.

“He was the dumb patsy that they could lay the case right in his lap,” Harris said, adding, what better person to take the fall than someone wearing a GPS monitor?

The defense attorney pointed out during the trial that the juvenile, who was called to testify, was given a deal assuring his case would stay in juvenile court if he testified at trial. He pleaded guilty to murder and has been sentenced to the Ohio Department of Youth Services until his 21st birthday.

Pawlowski, 17, who was tried as an adult, was sentenced to prison for 15 years. He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, aggravated burglary and having weapons under disability with gang and gun specifications. A fourth person in the car was not charged, Harris said.

The trial is expected to continue all week.