A man described by prosecutors as one of the biggest players in gun violence in Springfield has been sentenced to more than 23 years in prison.
Dennis Kennedy Jr., 23, was sentenced Tuesday morning on two counts of discharging a firearm into a habitation and one count of improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle. Clark County Judge Richard O’Neill ordered him to serve a total of 23 and a half years.
“This is an individual that used guns to solve his problems and he did not care who he was going to hurt in trying to do that,” Clark County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Driscoll said.
It’s a benefit to the entire Clark County community to have him behind bars for a long time, he said, as he has a history of charges related to guns.
“This was a great win today to not have to worry about this individual,” he said.
Kennedy was found guilty of the charges by a jury earlier this month. He received the maximum sentence for the charges he faced.
In court the judge said Kennedy turned the streets of Springfield into a war zone when he opened fire on two different houses.
“Mr. Kennedy used a semi-automatic rifle and fired approximately 19 shots into a house on Pine Street here in Clark County, Ohio, and then another 17 on a house on South Center,” Driscoll said.
Evidence showed there were children inside the home at the time of the shooting, he said.
“Luckily we weren’t here on murder charges,” he said.
Kennedy’s attorney argued he should face a lesser sentence because no one was injured in the shootings but the judge disagreed.
Kennedy was charged in connection to the fatal shooting of George Walker Jr. in 2014. But those charges were dropped when a key witness was killed. Walker was shot near the intersection of Grand and Lowry avenues and died at the hospital. At the time of the shooting, callers to 9-1-1 reported hearing as many as 10 shots fired.
“There was evidence that he was connected to it,” Driscoll said. “Unfortunately an eyewitness in that matter was killed in a separate incident and was no longer available for us at trial.”
Now it’s a good time for anyone with information on that case to come forward, prosecutors said.
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“We believe with Mr. Kennedy now in prison for the next 20-plus years that those witnesses should now feel safe to come forward,” Driscoll said.
He has been in contact with Walker’s family, Driscoll said, and they’re crushed that no one has been convicted for his death.
“They want the individual who committed this crime, who killed their son, to answer for that,” he said, “and we are still looking to try to do that for them.”
Kennedy is already serving an 18-month prison sentence for a separate improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle charge.
He was convicted in that case in August 2016 but skipped out on his sentencing. He was later found hiding in an attic in South Carolina.
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Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has reported on Dennis Kennedy Jr. since he was first arrested in connection with a murder case in 2014, including stories on those charges being dismissed after a witness died and Kennedy’s later conviction on separate gun charges.