Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Joan Synenberg upheld a motion to dismiss from Biles-Thomas’s defense team after she found that the evidence presented by prosecutors was “insufficient to sustain a conviction.” Synenberg cited a witness for the prosecution who testified that she didn’t see the shooter’s face and was only 75 percent certain that clothing visible on surveillance being worn by Biles-Thomas matched her recollection of what the shooter was wearing.
“My heart goes out to the families of the victims,” Synenberg said as she closed the case.
At that point, a woman stood up and ran at Biles-Thomas while shouting about her distress. Later, she could be heard outside the courtroom sobbing that Biles-Thomas “killed my baby.”
The woman was identified in an incident report as Brandy N. Johnson, a 40-year-old Cleveland resident. She was released with no charges after Synenberg declined to hold a contempt-of-court hearing.
Biles-Thomas, a soldier in the U.S. Army, was arrested in August 2019 and charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault and perjury. He pleaded not guilty in September, shortly after Biles, his gold medal-winning sister, said on social media that she was “still having a hard time processing” the situation.
When the case went to trial last month after being moved as part of a response to the coronavirus pandemic, prosecutors said Biles-Thomas opened fire on Johnson and Banks when Gibson was accosted at the party. Johnson was said to have returned fire in self-defense, killing Gibson. A defense attorney for Biles-Thomas, Joseph Patituce, said there was no evidence showing his client fired any shots, and prosecutors were not able to present the gun used to kill Johnson and Banks.
“He’s now run the gantlet twice,” Patituce said Wednesday (via WEWS) of Biles-Thomas. “You’ve gone through two full trials where no one [who] has any credibility has identified him as the shooter.”
The defense attorney described Brandie Johnson’s actions as “shocking.”
“It was a surprise. But they lost children,” he said. “It wasn’t Tevin, but they lost children. And it’s a horrible tragedy all around.”
Biles-Thomas and Biles were separated during childhood when their mother, who struggled with drug and alcohol dependency, lost custody of her eight children. Biles and several siblings moved to Houston under the care of her paternal grandfather while Biles-Thomas was adopted by another relative in Cleveland.
Of the case, Biles said in a note in 2019: “My heart aches for everyone involved, especially for the victims and their families. There is nothing I can say that will heal anyone’s pain, but I do want to express my sincere condolences to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy.”