Judge views body camera footage in Cortez Sims case; hearing resumes tomorrow

Cortez Sims, the 17-year-old suspect in a 2015 deadly apartment shooting at College Hill Courts, appears before Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Robert D. Philyaw for a detention hearing on Jan. 12, 2015.

Read the updated story here.


A judge today viewed the 11-minute body camera footage where a survivor identifies Cortez Sims as the gunman in a January 2015 shootout that killed one and injured three.

Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman viewed the footage privately, saying the video will remain under seal until he makes a decision on how much jurors should know about Bianca Horton.

After hearing about two hours of testimony and debate on a number of outstanding issues, Steelman said he would recess the Sims case until tomorrow morning at 10.

Police say Sims burst into a College Hill Courts apartment around 1 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2015, and opened fire on Talitha Bowman, Marcell Christopher, Horton, and her child, Zoey Duncan, who was paralyzed as a result of the shooting.

Bowman died when a bullet struck her collarbone, police said. While Christopher and Horton survived, the 26-year-old mother was found dead in May 2016 in the 2100 block of Elder Street. At the time, Sims was scheduled for a Sept. 27 trial.

Police and prosecutors said Christopher and Horton identified Sims shortly after the shooting and during a transfer hearing to determine whether the then 17-year-old should be tried as an adult. Christopher told a responding officer that Sims shot him in the chest, the entire interaction caught on a body camera.

Identification was a central theme of today's hearing, where defense attorneys questioned that and the coverage that Sims' case has generated in local and national media.

Attorneys Lee Ortwein and Clancy Covert pushed the issue of juries, and whether Hamilton County citizens could remain partial after seeing so much coverage that suggested Horton's death was retaliatory.

"This is a case that has everything a front page needs," Ortwein said.

"What could there be that a juror read?" Steelman asked.

"That Bianca Horton is dead," Ortwein replied.

Steelman said he needed decide whether the state's proof on Horton would be admissible in trial before ruling on an out-of-town jury.

The discussion continues tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Steelman's courtroom.