2023 murder case involving teens headed to mediation

March 7, 2024 | 12:08 am

Updated March 7, 2024 | 12:25 am

The murder case for the fatal shooting of a teenager in June 2023 is headed to mediation. 

Peiyton A. Smith is the 17-year-old charged with June 24, 2023, murder for the homicide of 16-year-old Demarion Black. Smith, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, is also being charged with possession of a handgun by a minor and trafficking in marijuana (less than 8 ounces, first offense, enhanced).

Smith appeared in front of Daviess Circuit Judge Jay Wethington for a suppression hearing Wednesday afternoon. Evan Taylor, Smith’s attorney, first filed a motion to suppress statements and/or confessions and evidence based on those statements in November. 

However, Wethington did not rule on the motion and instead ordered that the prosecution and defense enter mediation. The mediation will take place in the coming weeks with retired Judge Joe Castlen assigned to serve as the mediator. A status hearing has been scheduled for April 17 in front of Wethington to see if the mediation resulted in a resolution.

“When you have cases that have a significant amount of risks on either side, sometimes finding compromise is difficult,” Taylor said. “And so the hope is that a trained mediator can help the parties figure out what the options are. … I don’t know what the outcome of our mediation (will be). What I know is that it’s definitely best to explore this option at this time.”

Prosecutor Nick Payne declined to comment because the case is ongoing.

Mediation is an informal process in which a neutral third party called a mediator facilitates the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties, according to the Kentucky Court of Justice website. The process is designed to help disputing parties reach an agreement on all or part of the issues in dispute. 

Decision-making authority remains with the parties, not the mediator. That means the mediator cannot impose a resolution and make a disgruntled party accept it. 

If the mediation succeeds and both sides come to an agreement, the attorneys will ask the court for a date to enter a plea and resolve the case — meaning in this case it would go back to Wethington for the ultimate ruling without going to trial. 

If mediation does not succeed and the parties cannot come to an agreement, the case would still go back in front of Wethington but would proceed toward a trial.

Mediation typically only takes one or two days but can take longer.

The shooting occurred at approximately 9:11 p.m. on June 24, 2023, in the 1800 block of Hughes Avenue. According to a release at the time, Owensboro Police Department officers arrived at the scene and located a juvenile male, later identified as Black, with multiple gunshot wounds.

Black was transported to Owensboro Health Regional Hospital where he later died due to his injuries, according to OPD.

OPD announced on June 26 that a 16-year-old male juvenile had been charged with murder in the case. However, per state law, the juvenile’s identity could not be released until his first appearance in adult court.

Smith was transferred to adult court in August, according to Daviess County Attorney John Burlew. Smith’s name was not released until his first appearance, which was made virtually, in November.

Wethington initially set a $500,000 full cash bond for Smith in October, but he reduced it to $150,000 full cash in November. Court records show that Smith is being held at the Warren County Regional Juvenile Detention Center. 

March 7, 2024 | 12:08 am

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