DA Seeks Death Penalty for Man Accused of Killing Infant at Washington Twp. Camp
Chad Chadwick, 22, of Ashtabula, Ohio, is charged with Criminal Homicide in the death of 9-month-old Zeke Hamilton.
Clarion County District Attorney Mark Aaron said the death penalty has been in consideration since the beginning of the investigation because the victim was a child under the age of 12.
The age of the victim is one of eighteen “aggravating factors” for capital punishment in Pennsylvania.
At a preliminary hearing on March 10, Magisterial District Judge Timothy P. Schill ordered Chadwick to stand trial on the following charges in the case:
– Criminal Homicide, Felony 1
– Conspiracy – Criminal Homicide, Felony 1
– Aggravated Assault, Felony 1
– Endangering Welfare of Children, Felony 3
– Simple Assault, Misdemeanor 1
– Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2
– Use/Possession Of Drug Paraphernalia, Misdemeanor 1
He is currently being housed in the Jefferson County Jail.
Chadwick’s girlfriend, Kelly Hemminger, originally faced Felony Conspiracy and other charges, though all charges against her, except Endangering the Welfare of a Child, were dropped.
According to authorities, the two were entrusted with Hamilton and his two siblings for an overnight camp-out over Labor Day weekend last year.
Between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., on August 31, Hamilton began vomiting, breathing heavy, and started to seize, after being seen healthy hours before, according to a Criminal Complaint.
Chadwick and Hemminger, along with David Hemminger, took the victim to UPMC Northwest in Seneca in a personal vehicle.
Later Marienville-based State Police were contacted about a 6-month-old (the age Hamilton was at the time) at UPMC Northwest with injuries from potentially being shaken.
He was then life-flighted to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh to receive more advanced medical attention.
It was reported by medical personnel that the victim had a fractured skull and broken ribs.
Hamilton remained in critical condition and was moved to a hospice unit for 78 days where he remained in a coma before passing away on November 15.
The Medical Examiner’s report states that the victim sustained “non-accidental blunt force trauma to the head.”
Aaron says he’s unsure of when the case will go to trial.
“I don’t even want to speculate,” said Aaron.
“It’s fairly obvious that because it is a death penalty case, it will take some time to work through the court system.”
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