Friday, August 03, 2001

Teen faces new charge of attempted murder

16-year-old acccused of shooting toddler

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Joyce Ginyard wept Thursday as she listened to a prosecutor tell a juvenile court judge that charges against her 16-year-old son had changed to include attempted murder.

        The tears fell even harder when she learned she'd have to wait another week to find out whether her son will face these new charges as an adult.

[photo] Joyce Ginyard, mother of the shooting suspect, weeps during Thursday's hearing in Hamilton County Juvenile Court.
(Steven M. Herppich photos)
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        The teen is accused of shooting 2-year-old Devonte Ross as the toddler stood on a sidewalk in Over-the-Rhine on July 20.

        Initially charged with two counts of felonious assault, he now faces additional charges of attempted murder, inducing panic and having a weapon while under disability.

        Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Thomas R. Lipps will decide next week whether he should be sent to adult court.

        Shackled and handcuffed, the 16-year-old hung his head as the new charges were read. And his mother, who sat at his side, struggled to regain her composure.

        Carmaleetta “Coko” Ross, the mother of Devonte, watched as Ms. Ginyard wept — and remembered.

        She thought of the eight days she'd spent by Devonte's bedside, weeping similar tears because she couldn't do anything to help her son.

        “I felt bad for her,” Ms. Ross said after the hearing. “I know what it's like when you can't do anything for your child. I don't like to see her cry. It's hard to see your child going through something and you can't help him.”

        She didn't push for the stiffer charges. That decision, she said, was made by the prosecutors.

        Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen, who visited Devonte in the hospital, has promised to push for the toughest charges possible.

        If sent to adult court, the teen could face life in prison if convicted. If he stays in juvenile court, he could be jailed only until he is 21.

[photo] The 16-year-old suspect in the July 20 shooting of Devonte Ross hangs his head in Juvenile Court on Thursday.
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        Following Thursday's hearing, Ms. Ross and Ms. Ginyard embraced.

        They met last month when Ms. Ginyard went to Children's Hospital Medical Center, where Devonte was hospitalized, and apologized to Ms. Ross.

        “She saw me when I was crying and she gave me a hug. I did the same for her. I'll be there for her. I don't hold anything against her or her son,” Ms. Ross said.

        Before the hearing, Ms. Ginyard spoke briefly about her son, saying only that he'd been portrayed incorrectly in media reports. “No one knows him. No one knows what he's really like,” she said.

        After the hearing, she was still distraught and declined interviews.

        Authorities say the teen has been convicted of at least 17 offenses in Hamilton County Juvenile Court. The first was for aggravated menacing when he was 12.

        His other convictions include assault, attempted robbery, receiving stolen property, theft and gross sexual imposition.

        The teen has been described by officials as “a good kid” who has difficulty solving problems.

        Officials say Devonte was shot by the teen as the 16-year-old fled from Dominic Mitchem.

        Authorities say Mr. Mitchem was chasing the teen and firing shots at him as the two ran along Vine Street. The teen, who was also armed, allegedly fired blindly over his shoulder at Mr. Mitchem. A bullet struck Devonte in the torso.

        Mr. Mitchem faces charges of felonious assault, inducing panic and having a weapon while under disability.

        Released from the hospital Saturday, Devonte continues to recover, his mother said.

        “He's doing better. He walks with a little limp” she said. “He's almost back to his normal self.”

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