The gravity of the consequences six juveniles may face after being charged with Thursday’s aggravated robbery of a Huber Heights AT&T store hit home for at least some of their family members Friday in Montgomery County Juvenile Court.
Multiple people ran out of the courtroom screaming, “No!” and crying when Judge Anthony Capizzi said several more charges and a transfer to adult court was likely, and that prison sentences beyond a decade were possible.
“I’m going to tell them the truth,” Capizzi said after the first two of six defendants and their families appeared for a detention hearing and saying the juveniles may be connected to other armed robberies. “I’m not going to sugarcoat anything.”
Capizzi ruled that because the alleged crimes involved a handgun supposedly pointed at the head of at least one store employee at 8245 Old Troy Pike, all six will be detained during the case. The charged adult in the case is Springfield High School standout football player Caleb W. Johnson.
After one defendant asked, the judge said all of them could get used to the idea of being detained for at least four months, if not five or six. Johnson has not yet been arraigned.
All six of the boys from Trotwood and Dayton — including two 15-year-olds whose transfer to adult court would be discretionary — are scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing on Feb. 16.
The charges against some defendants could multiply even after prosecutors are finished presenting the Huber Heights case because there may be a possibly related Springfield case.
“We are currently working with the Huber Heights PD to see if there is a connection in the two robberies,” said Lt. Jeff Meyer with the Springfield police. “Yesterday we had detectives go to Huber Heights to talk the individuals who were arrested.”
Johnson, a wide receiver, earned All-Ohio Division I football honors last season. He had transferred from Trotwood-Madison High School.
Springfield football coach Maurice Douglass confirmed by text that Johnson was to make a recruiting visit to Eastern Kentucky University this weekend.
After the hearing, an aunt of one of the defendants said many of the boys knew each other from playing youth football with the Dayton Flames.
Asked if she thought the defendants understood the seriousness of their situation, Stephlynn Coates said, “No.”
Three of the six juveniles have felony records – including one with previous aggravated robbery and felonious assault convictions – according to court records obtained by this news organization.
Four of the boys are from Dayton – aged 15, 16, 16 and 17 – and two are from Trotwood aged 15 and 16, according to records. The 15-year-old Trotwood boy, one Dayton 16-year-old and the Dayton 17-year-old have no juvenile record or only minor/misdemeanor cases.
Along with the previous aggravated robbery and felonious assault cases, the 16-year-old Trotwood boy has felony convictions for trafficking in marijuana, grand theft auto and multiple cases for receiving stolen property. He also faces other new unrelated charges and was “AWOL” since Dec. 26, according to a probation officer who was in court Friday.
The 15-year-old Dayton boy has previous felony convictions for breaking and entering, receiving stolen property, grand theft auto and multiple cases for receiving stolen property.
Coates said her son knows some of the boys and that it was “heartbreaking” when she found out about the situation.
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“It really saddens me because our youth just … they can’t be forgotten, even when they make mistakes,” she said. “I think sometimes kids are just looking for acceptance and they look in the wrong place.”
Coates said she’d pray for the kids she said were good but “got lost.” She also said she would visit Johnson and write the others letters.
“Where I see a way into their hearts or their minds or their conscience, that’s what I will try to do,” Coates said. “That’s all anybody can try to do.”