EATON — A 24-year-old West Alexandria man will be sentenced next month after pleading guilty in the 2013 shooting death of Jerry Mason.
Tyler Smith, last Tuesday, Feb. 2, entered a plea of guilty to aggravated murder in Mason’s death. Sentencing in the case is scheduled for March 15 in the Preble County Common Pleas Court.
Trial in the case had been scheduled to begin this past Monday, Feb. 8.
Smith was represented by local attorney Brian Muenchenback with the State of Ohio represented by Prosecuting Attorney Martin P. Votel.
According to officials, on Friday, May 17, 2013, at approximately 6:17 a.m., Preble County Sheriff’s dispatch received a 9-1-1 call from Smith reporting he had “done something bad and needed to go to jail.”
Deputies responded to 5877 Lexington Road to discover the body of Jerry Mason on a couch in the living room, according to Votel. Mason had been shot in the head with a pump-action shotgun and his body had been covered with a blanket.
Mason was the boyfriend of Smith’s mother, Renee Browning, and the three had lived together at that address. Smith was interviewed on scene and again later at the Preble County Sheriff’s Office, and he confessed to shooting Mason while the man slept on the couch.
The motive for the murder was unclear, but Smith indicated repeated arguments between himself and the victim had caused him to begin contemplating the murder several weeks before committing the crime, according to Votel.
According to Votel, aggravated murder is an “unclassified offense” under Ohio law, and therefore has its own sentencing requirements and mandates. “Ohio law gives a sentencing court four options when sentencing a defendant for aggravated murder: life without the possibility of parole; a sentence of 30-years-to-life, with parole eligibility beginning after serving 30 years in prison; a sentence of 25-years-to-life, with parole eligibility beginning after serving 25 years in prison; and a sentence of 20-years-to-life, with parole eligibility beginning after serving 20 years in prison,” Votel explained in a release.
“The court must impose one of these four sentences.”
At the conclusion of the plea hearing, the court ordered a pre-sentence investigation to assist the court in determining which of the four available sentences is appropriate in the case.
“The defendant contemplated this murder, and the method of the murder, for weeks — he ultimately decided to shoot Jerry Mason with a shotgun at contact range while Jerry slept,” Votel said in the release. “Mr. Mason never heard the defendant coming and never moved before being shot. Obviously, this crime was premeditated, vicious, and senseless. The State is gratified that Tyler Smith accepted responsibility for his actions and that he will answer for them beginning on March 15, 2016. The thoughts and prayers of this office, and no doubt this community, are with Mr. Mason’s family.”