16-year-old appears in Butler County Juvenile court charged with aggravated murder

Family: Boy, 16, charged in Middletown murder needs mental help

The teen was arraigned Tuesday in juvenile court on charges of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery, and Magistrate Patricia Wilkerson ordered the boy to remain behind bars.

FIRST REPORT: Middletown boy, 16, charged with murder after drug deal ‘gone wrong’

The 16-year-old is charged with shooting and killing Stephan Cotter, 22, of Loveland, on Friday night in what police have described as a drug deal gone bad.

The teen sat alone in court Tuesday while charges against him were read. Those charges also included tampering with evidence for allegedly throwing the gun used in the shooting in the river, and a burglary charge for a previous incident on Yankee Road. In addition, he is charged with a probation violation and was a runaway at the time of shooting.

The burglary charge stems from an incident in October when the teen is accused of kicking in the back door of a residence and stealing guns, a television and food.

When the magistrate asked the teen if he understood the charges, he answered, “Yeah.”

According to juvenile court records, the teen said he got into a parked vehicle in front of (a residence) on Pear Street to purchase marijuana and Xanax.

“The (teen) admitted to robbing this subject and pulling a gun out on them. (The teen) said he got into a physical confrontation … stated he shot the passenger (of the car) and then fled on foot,” according to the complaint.

The teen’s family members were in court, but declined to comment.

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Traci Combs-Valerio, an attorney who has represented the teen’s mother and step-father, released the following statement: “The minor child is in need of mental health treatment and possibly medications that could significantly help his behaviors. The family is deeply saddened by the allegations and charges levied against the minor child and continue to pray for healing for the victim and his family. The family would like to ask for privacy during this difficult time.”

The teen’s mother does not have custody of him, according to Combs-Valerio.

“While (mother) had custody of the minor child, they began him in mental health treatment at the age of 6. After years of therapy, careful consideration, and the consideration of safety issues for mother and her other family members still in the home, she allowed the father to take legal custody of the minor child at age 11,” Combs-Valerio said in a statement to this news outlet.

According to Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser, because of the teen’s age, it is a mandatory for bind over to adult court if the judge finds probable cause.

A hearing before Judge Ronald Craft has been scheduled for Dec. 21.

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At about 6:30 p.m. Friday, Middletown police were called to the area of Lawn Avenue on a report of a shooting. They found Cotter slumped over and unconscious in the passenger seat of a 2012 Kia, according to a police report. Cotter was shot in the chest area.

Cotter was transported to Miami Valley Hospital, where he died, according to Middletown Police Lt. Scott Reeve.

Cotter and the teen met on Facebook, and the teen arranged to buy marijuana and other drugs from Cotter near Cherry Street and Lawn Avenue, police said.

Friday night’s shooting was the city’s ninth homicide of the year, according to police.

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