Simone Biles’s Brother Is Acquitted of Murder Charges

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U.S.|Simone Biles’s Brother Is Acquitted of Murder Charges

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/16/us/simone-biles-brother-acquitted.html

Tevin Biles-Thomas was charged in the fatal shooting of three people at a New Year’s Eve party in 2018. This week, a judge said prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to convict him.

Body camera footage shows a woman running toward Tevin Biles-Thomas after he was acquitted in Cleveland on Tuesday.
Credit...Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office

By Eduardo Medina and Alyssa Lukpat

June 16, 2021

Tevin Biles-Thomas, the brother of the Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles, was acquitted of murder charges this week, less than a month after a Cleveland judge declared a mistrial in his case.

Mr. Biles-Thomas, 26, was charged in the fatal shooting of three people at a New Year’s Eve party in Cleveland in 2018. On Tuesday, Judge Joan Synenberg of Common Pleas Court in Cuyahoga County acquitted him, court records show, granting a motion filed by Mr. Biles-Thomas’s defense lawyers arguing that prosecutors had failed to provide enough evidence to justify a guilty verdict.

“I came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction,” Judge Synenberg said in an interview on Wednesday.

Mr. Biles-Thomas’s previous trial ended abruptly on May 25 after jurors told Judge Synenberg that they had mistakenly seen legal briefs among the trial evidence.

It was not immediately clear how the briefs became mixed with the evidence, but they reportedly reflected debate between prosecutors and Mr. Biles-Thomas’s defense lawyers about whether he had acted in self-defense, Cleveland.com reported.

After the second trial adjourned on Tuesday, Judge Synenberg said, the mother of one of the victims, who was “very upset” with the outcome, ran toward Mr. Biles-Thomas, seemingly intent on injuring him. Video footage obtained by WKYC-TV shows the woman being pulled away by security officers in the courtroom.

Judge Synenberg said no charges had been filed against the woman. “I think everybody feels compassion for the victims’ families,” she said.

Joseph Patituce, Mr. Biles-Thomas’s lawyer, said his client felt vindicated by the acquittal.

“To say he was relieved was probably an understatement,” said Mr. Patituce, the managing partner of Patituce & Associates in Ohio.

“He had a bright future in the Army,” Mr. Patituce said. “He might return to that, or he might move on.”

Representatives for Ms. Biles, a five-time Olympic medalist, did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment.

Mr. Biles-Thomas was arrested in August 2019 and charged with murder, homicide, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault and perjury in connection with the shooting at a house party on Dec. 31, 2018, the authorities said.

Three people were killed: DeVaughn Gibson, 23; DelVaunte Johnson, 19; and Toshaun Banks, 21.

The authorities said in a statement at the time of Mr. Biles-Thomas’s arrest that “an uninvited group” had entered the house around 11:30 p.m. the night of the shooting and that “an altercation ensued between the uninvited guests and those who were invited.” Shots were fired, striking “multiple” people, including the three who died, they said.

Ms. Biles, 24, said on Twitter after her brother’s arrest in 2019 that she was “still having a hard time processing” what had happened.

“My heart aches for everyone involved,” Ms. Biles said. “I ask everyone to please respect my family’s privacy as we deal with our pain.”

In an essay for CNN in 2018, Ms. Biles said that she and her siblings had been removed from her mother’s custody when Ms. Biles was 3. Her mother had a drug addiction.

Ms. Biles is headed to Tokyo to compete in her second Olympic Games next month. Last month she became the first woman to ever execute a Yurchenko double pike, a dangerous move involving a back handspring and two flips in a pike position before landing on her feet.

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