No murder charge for Krieg Butler in shooting death of Sinzae Reed

A Grand Jury indicted Butler on charges of improper handling of a firearm and tampering with evidence in relation to the Oct. 12 shooting death of the 13-year-old Reed.
Sinzae Reed
Sinzae ReedCourtesy Megan Reed

A Franklin County Grand Jury chose not to charge Krieg Butler with murder in the shooting death of 13-year-old Sinzae Reed.

Butler, 36, who claimed self-defense in the Oct. 12 shooting, was indicted on charges of improper handling of a firearm and tampering with evidence. No court date has been set, but a request has been made to issue a warrant for Butler’s arrest, according to court records.

Butler shot and killed Reed outside at the Wedgewood Village Apartments, a housing complex in the Hilltop where both lived. The Franklin County Coroner’s office released a report in January that determined Reed had been shot twice, including the fatal wound to his chest. Within 48 hours of the shooting, Butler was arrested by Columbus police. He was then charged with murder by the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office and held on a $1 million bond. But a week later, the charges were dismissed and the bond removed, pending an investigation.

No new information accompanied word of the Grand Jury indictment, which was posted on the Franklin County Common Pleas Clerk of Courts website on Friday. Officials have still not released any information as to why Butler fired on Sinzae, and there’s been no indication given that Sinzae had a weapon at the time of the shooting.

Aside from confirming the charges against Butler, the Columbus Dispatch reported that the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office had no further comment: "The office does not comment regarding pending matters beyond providing information regarding the court process.”

“First, we had to wait to get the autopsy back. We got that. And then we have to wait for the ballistics to come back,” said Sinzae’s mother, Megan Reed, in an interview with Matter News earlier this year. “It’s all just a waiting game. They want to have some reason to let Krieg go, that’s how it feels to me. … And he’s still walking around here, free, living his life like everything’s fine.”

The death of Sinzae Reed, along with the response of the legal system and the lack of transparency shown by authorities, have made the case a flashpoint for local activists, who have called out not only the seeming double standard shown in the treatment of Butler, but also the way neighborhoods like Wedgewood are often abandoned by those in power.

“There is a different level of violence that happens within these neighborhoods, and we only allow it to happen in these neighborhoods,” Ramon Obey, the cofounder of Justice, Unity, and Social Transformation (JUST), said earlier this year. “Krieg Butler would not be free if he lived in New Albany. He would not be free if he lived in Bexley. … But now we’re looking at Wedgewood, and to the City of Columbus, Sinzae’s life is nothing more than collateral damage – if that. … And I think what’s been missed is that the city has been treating everybody in the Wedgewood area like that. In 2018, there were stories about the violence at Wedgewood. Now it’s 2023, and the violence there is the same, if not worse.”

The Franklin County Prosecutor’s office said the Reed case was presented to the Grand Jury over two days. For the charge of improper handling of a firearm, a fourth-degree felony, Butler faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison if convicted. Tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony, comes with a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Read more about the life and death of Sinzae Reed here.

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