A Hamilton teen has pleaded guilty to the shooting death of her father, James Ponder, in February 2017.
The teen, now 15, was in Butler County Juvenile Court on Monday for a hearing to suppress statements the teen made to police after shooting her 71-year-old father on Feb. 23, 2017. Her attorney Matt Fritsch also wanted media barred from that hearing.
An attorney for this media outlet was on hand to fight that motion, but during the hearing that began 60 minutes late, the plea deal was announced.
The girl, who has been free on bond for months, answered “yes, ma’am” to a long list of questions from Judge Kathleen Romans before entering the guilty pleas to murder and a gun specification. The original charge was aggravated murder.
On Feb. 23, 2017, the girl, then a high school freshman, picked up a 9mm handgun, loaded it and shot him in the head at their Millville Avenue home, according to police and prosecutors.
“I just shot my dad,” she told 911 dispatchers in a call placed moments after the shooting. She was arrested on the driveway of the family home when police arrived.
This news organization is not naming the teen because she is charged as a juvenile.
Romans set sentencing for March 19 and ordered the teen taken into custody, despite objections by her attorney. The teen will receive a blended sentence, meaning she would receive a juvenile sentence but an adult sentence could be imposed if she does not behave in the juvenile prison.
The teen could be ordered to be held in the Ohio Department of Youth Services until her 21st birthday. The adult sentence is a mandatory 18 years to life, if it is imposed after the juvenile sentence.
No motive for the shooting has been offered.
Prosecutors had requested the teen be tried as an adult, but Romans ruled the teen’s case would remain in juvenile court. The girl was declared a Serious Youth Offender, which meant the blended sentence would be imposed.
Ponder’s son, James Ponder Jr. expressed anger to the judge after the plea.
“I don’t agree with the charge being dropped down,” Ponder Jr. said. “I don’t think that she should have the right to not explain herself.”