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Crime/Court

Advance America store robbed Thursday in Front Royal, may be related to other robberies

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FRONT ROYAL – The Front Royal Police Department is investigating a Thursday afternoon robbery that may be connected to a rash of robberies occurring within the last week in the region.   A media release from the department states that this afternoon at 1:40 p.m. a call came in regarding a robbery at the Advance America Cash Advance store located at 232 Remount Road, in the Gateway Plaza shopping center.  Police say the first officer was on scene at approximately 1:43 p.m.

The release states that “a black male, approximately 6’0”, 250 lbs, wearing a gray shirt, blue jeans and a dark colored baseball cap entered Advance America and demanded money from the employees.”   The suspect reportedly carried a black satchel and left the business with an undisclosed amount of money and fled on foot in the direction of John Marshall Highway.

Fauquier County sheriff’s deputies responded to an Advance America branch in Warrenton approximately 90 minutes after Front Royal’s robbery and took a suspect in custody.  Detectives were able to confirm that the suspect was the same subject who committed the robbery in Front Royal.

This robbery may be related to a robbery of the Allied Cash Advance Store in Winchester that occurred today at approximately 12:40 p.m. on Weems Lane and may also be connected to a Wednesday robbery in Leesburg and a Saturday robbery in Centerville.

Captain Crystal Cline, reached by telephone early Thursday evening,  said the investigation continues and a felony robbery warrant would be sought in connection with the case.  The identity of the subject is being withheld at this time due to the number of investigations involved.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Detective M. Ramey at 540-636-2208 or email at mramey@frontroyalva.com.

Crime/Court

Child endangerment and drug arrest in Linden

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Ashley Secor and Misty Morris. Photo courtesy of RSW Regional Jail.

On December 13, 2018 at approximately 3:56 pm Warren County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call in reference to a cardiac arrest at Linden residence on Rambo Lane. The caller also advised that there was an infant in the residence and she was unaware of who the infant belonged to. Upon arrival, Deputies observed CPR being performed on a female lying on the front porch. The female was later identified as 39 year old Misty Morris who resides at that address.

Deputy Stevens assessed Morris’ condition, administered one dose of four milligrams of Naloxone and CPR was continued. Morris slowly began showing signs of a positive reaction to the Naloxone and a second four milligram dose was administered. Morris regained full consciousness and refused medical treatment from Warren County Fire and Rescue personnel.

The caller exited the residence and informed the Deputies that there was another female in the basement. Deputies located and detained 32 year old Ashley Secor of Paw Paw Drive, Front Royal, VA in the locked basement bathroom. Secor is the mother of the 13 month old infant that was left unattended upstairs.

Northwest Regional Drug Task Force Agents and Warren County Department of Social Services were contacted and responded to the scene. The father of the 13 month old was located and responded to take custody of his child.

Secor was arrested and charged with the following:

Distribution of schedule I narcotic
Possession of schedule I narcotic
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Felony child endangerment

Morris was arrested and charged with the following:

Conspiracy to distribution schedule I narcotic
Possession of schedule I narcotic
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Felony child endangerment

Both females were transported to RSW Regional Jail and are currently being held without bond.

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Crime/Court

ATF raid results in 19 arrests for drug and firearm violations

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House on South Royal Ave, Front Royal was one location raided by ATF early in morning last week. Photo by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Thomas T. Cullen, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Thomas L. Chittum III, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington DC Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, and Sheriff Timothy Carter announced this morning (December 13th) that the following persons (19) were arrested in December 2018 on Sealed Federal Indictments. Also listed are three additional persons who were arrested for state narcotics charges during this operation.

Jonathan L. Hodges, 30 years old, of Front Royal, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substances

William R Shoemaker, Jr. 45 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Katie L. Harlow, 27 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Dana M. Silvious, 29 years old, of Maurertown, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Erica N. Lam, 29 years old, of New Market, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine

Brandon W. Eppard, 28 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Maintaining Drug Related Premises

Tiffany Bowman-Lopez, 30 years old, Quicksburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Six (6) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Amanda J. Mullins, 30 years old, Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Anthony Testerman, 25 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances

Kenneth J. Webb, 36 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Three (3) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Dietrich M. Day II, 28 years old, of Dumfries, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance


The following individuals were arrested on Tuesday 11, 2018 on Sealed Federal Indictments:

Jeffrey C. Mays, 32 years old, of Basye, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Crime

Javon E. Cook, 26 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance
  • Use and Carry Firearm during Drug Trafficking Crime

Michael L. Mullins, 32 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Christian M. Burhop, 27 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Distribution of Controlled Substance w/TBL
  • Four (4) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substance

Justin T. Mumaw, 26 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Two (2) Counts of Distribution of Controlled Substances

Brooke N. McIntosh, 27 years old, no fixed address

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine

Christopher T. Trimble Fishersville, VA

  • Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute Heroin and Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person

Additional Federal Arrest Warrant:

Merle Stephens, 50 years old, of Basye, VA

  • Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person
  • Possession of Firearm in Furtherance Drug Trafficking Crime

SCSO arrested the following on State charges:

John K. Barb, 38 years old, of Woodstock, VA

  • Possession of Methamphetamine

Christopher A. Miller, 31 years old, of Edinburg, VA

  • Possession of a Controlled Substance

Felicia A. Gainer, 31 years old, of Mount Jackson, VA

  • Two (2) Possession of Controlled Substance
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Crime/Court

Bonds set in Christendom College arson-vandalism cases

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christendom fire

Ryan Farrell anf Christopher Shanahan / Courtesy Photos RSW Jail

FRONT ROYAL – Two Christendom College students facing multiple charges for setting fire to a common-access campus dorm bathroom on December 6 were in Warren County General District Court on Tuesday, December 11.

Ryan Farrell, 23, and Christopher Shanahan, 20, face identical charges of Arson, burning of an occupied building; Arson, burning or destroying personal property; Vandalism, entering property of another for purpose of damaging it; and Trespass with intent to damage property or interfere with property rights; Petit larceny, under $200; and § 18.2-415 – Disorderly conduct in public places.

In addition, Shanahan was also charged with one count of Underage Possession of Alcohol.

The arson and vandalism charges are felonies, the others misdemeanors.

During the Tuesday hearing, both Farrell and Shanahan saw bond set at $2500, with court dates of April 10, 2019, set at 1:15 p.m. Court records indicate that Farrell was represented by Todd Gilbert and Shanahan by Jerry Talton.

An online search of the RSW Jail inmate locator program indicated Farrell and Shanahan were no longer inmates as of December 12.

See related story: Two Christendom College students charged in campus dorm arson

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Crime/Court

Tenney animals released for adoption, child endangerment charges certified

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Brian and Wendy Tenney following their arrests earlier this autumn on child endangerment and animal cruelty charges / Photos courtesty RSW Regional Jail.

FRONT ROYAL – Following a two-and-a-half hour hearing regarding a variety of charges against former commercial kennel owners Wendy and Brian Tenney, Warren County General District Court Judge W. Dale Houff granted the commonwealth’s petition that 28 surviving animals seized during a September 12 search of the Tenney property be released for adoption by the Humane Society of Warren County.

Houff also certified 12 felony counts – one for each of the six Tenney children under the age of 18 filed against each parent – to the Warren County Grand Jury convening on January 14. Those charges of “Labor-Cruelty and Injuries to Children” or child endangerment and neglectful care relate to the conditions within the Tenney residence discovered during the September 12 execution of the search warrant by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
Following the closing of the commonwealth and defense presentation of witnesses and evidence regarding the petitions, Judge Houff paused to study the many photographs of the Tenney property, residence and shed, the latter where the majority of dogs were discovered, introduced into evidence by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Anna Hammond.

First addressing the felony counts related to the Tenney children, the judge said he did not question that those children were loved by their parents. However, he disputed defense counsel’s contention that what was found that day was “a snapshot” of a specific moment in time that did not reflect how the Tenney’s normally lived.

The judge also disputed a defense assertion that a lack of chronic health problems in the children indicated that they did not normally live in the type of filth discovered in the home that day.

“I do not believe that child endangerment or neglectful care requires the commonwealth to sit back until something happens,” Houff said of potential health consequences of living in close proximity to rotting food, animal waste, mold and insect infestation.

What the prosecution presented from the testimony of law enforcement personnel at the scene and photographs taken by investigators was what the judge termed “such an array of chaos” that it could not simply be dismissed as a momentary aberration without further scrutiny at a higher level, first before a grand jury and then if further certified likely before a jury of the Tenney’s peers.

In fact, the judge pointed to one prosecution photograph with a sign posted on a wall in the Tenney residence that read “To You This May Be Chaos, To Us It Is Family” to question what exactly the Tenney’s considered acceptable chaos.

Three Sheriff’s Office deputies, including Animal Control Deputy Laura Gomez and Investigators Brad Pugh and Allen Smoot testified to what they described as horrid conditions in both the enclosed shed where the dogs were kept penned and residence where one dog and most cats were discovered and in which the Tenneys and their seven children, one over 18, lived.

Those conditions included animal feces and urine, some developing mold or signs of worms, wasting food and trash on the floor and a general stench and smell of ammonia so bad they could continue searches only in five-minute increments even with ventilators on due to the strength of the stench. One officer testified that several of the Tenney children were barefoot and had to step over feces in their bare feet.

Under cross-examination, Animal Control Deputy Gomez admitted that on previous inspections of Tenney’s property as recent as March or April conditions had been normal, clean and acceptable. Defense counsel also pointed out that Mrs. Tenney had asked Gomez to allow her to clean up after she called for the search warrant but had not been allowed to do so.

But under redirect examination, Gomez noted that her previous inspections of the Tenney kennel or property had always been scheduled in advance – “This was unscheduled,” the animal control officer observed.

Discovered on that unscheduled inspection according to Deputy Pugh was a dining room containing “a litter box in the corner with mold on the feces”; a kitchen with “rotted food on countertops with mold” and flies congregating; one bathroom in the residence with a tub and toilet of various shades of brown; and children’s bedrooms “with sheets almost brown with filth”; and “food everywhere.”

Animals & restitution
As for the court’s ruling on the surviving Tenney Australian Shepherd dogs and the cats’ release for adoption, Judge Houff revisited his ruling on the felony child endangerment counts certification to the grand jury.

Noting an absence of malnutrition in the dogs cited by the defense in cross-examination of the humane society shelter director, the judge again noted the Commonwealth wasn’t bound to wait to act to correct a situation until dire negative consequences were visible.
As for what was visible – Gomez described newspapers on top of individual dog kennel cages “saturated in feces, urine and food” inside a closed shed without water or any sign they had been allowed out to what she testified appeared to be unused, clean kennels outside.

Australian Shepherd / Courtesy of AKC Club

Upon the court ruling to release the Tenney animals for adoption by the Humane Society of Warren County (HSWC) “in the best interest of the animals” the issue of restitution was raised. That restitution to date was cited as $39,705 to the HSWC for shelter care and $2,034 to the sheriff’s office for veterinary care.

Defense counsel said he did not know if his clients, both seated with him at the defense table, would appeal the court’s ruling. Neither Brian nor Wendy Tenney spoke during the hearing. Three Tenney children and Wendy Tenney’s parents were present. Tenney’s mother, who took custody of the children when they were ordered removed from the home on September 12, was one of two defense witnesses.

The defendants have 10 days to decide to appeal and 30 days to prepare an appeal filing should they choose that path.

Judge Houff set a $5,000 appeal bond, saying he did not feel it fair to impose the full restitution amount in order to file an appeal.

However, if they do not appeal, the judge filed an order of restitution for the full amount of $41,739 in his decision, stating he believed the county boarding and treatment of the animals was due to actions of the defendants. A conversation between the kennel manager and prosecutors after court was adjourned at 4:57 p.m. indicated a $15 per day fee per animal for boarding at the shelter, other than the first-day intake which is a $25 daily charge.

It was noted that since the Tenney animals were seized, one cat and one dog had been put down due to fatal feline or canine illness issues. But with 28 animals still boarded, if our calculating is accurate that is a $420 per day boarding fee be added to that restitution total. In making his restitution ruling, Houff noted he would not include interest in the previous costs, only from the date of his ruling.

Houff also ruled that the Tenney’s could own “up to four” dogs and “up to four” cats in the future as household pets. He said he did not think it fair to deprive the family and children of the pleasure of pet companionship if they so desired. And while he did not add a prosecution-requested condition that any future Tenney pet be spayed or neutered, he did say the four of each maximum was a hard line that could not be crossed once any resulting puppies or kittens were old enough to be separated from their mother.

See related story: Animal Cruelty charges added to those facing Wendy and Brian Tenney

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Crime/Court

Ritchie enters Alford guilty pleas to all 4 counts in toddler death

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In a surprise development Tuesday morning (Dec. 11), 29-year-old Chad Andrew Ritchie entered Alford guilty pleas on all four charges against him stemming from the November 8, 2017 death of 22-month-old toddler Malachi Zimmerman and injuries to his twin brother. An Alford plea is entered when a defendant accepts that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict, but does not admit guilt.

Under the terms of the agreement an “active” prison sentence – time actually served – is capped at 20 years. In accepting the plea at 11:32 a.m. Warren County Circuit Court Judge Clifford “Clay” Athey noted the agreed-upon sentencing cap was above the recommended midrange sentencing on the charges, which include Second Degree Murder.

During court discussion about the suggested agreement, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton noted recommended sentencing ranges of 14-years, 9 months on the low end to 24 years, 7 months at the high end, with 19 years, 8 months at the mid-range recommendation.

Questioned by the judge on his understanding of the plea agreement, Ritchie repeatedly answered, “Yes sir,” hesitating only once at the question that he agreed the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him. After a brief discussion with his counsel Ritchie finally again replied, “Yes sir.”

Clean shaven with his hair grown out to standard medium length at trial, Chad Ritchie presented an almost boyish appearance. Courtesy Photos RSW Jail

The involved twin toddlers were the children of Ritchie’s then girlfriend Tabitha Zimmerman, with whom he lived on Blue Mountain Road in eastern Warren County. The children were in the care of Ritchie the day of Malachi’s death last November.

The case file and testimony on day one of the trial, which began Monday afternoon shortly after 4 p.m., indicated that Zimmerman called the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 6:36 p.m. Wednesday, November 8, 2017 to report that her 22-month old son was not breathing. Zimmerman was not at the house, according to the case file, but had been told by Ritchie that one of her sons was not breathing.

After being treated by Warren County Fire and Rescue at the scene and in transport to Warren Memorial Hospital, Malachi Zimmerman was pronounced dead at the hospital. Cause of death was determined to be cardiac arrest brought on by internal bleeding from a ruptured intestine that flooded the child’s stomach cavity. See Related Story

It appeared from discussion between attorneys and the judge Tuesday morning that the sentencing recommendation on the three lesser felony charges – malicious wounding and two counts of cruelty causing injury to children – would be five years each, with the judge likely determining a lengthier sentence on the Second Degree Murder guilty plea.

The judge noted that the agreement does not limit the actual sentence he can impose or any probationary period, only the actual time to be served in prison.

The judge ordered a pre-sentence report prepared and scheduled a sentencing hearing for March 22, 2019, on the 9 a.m. docket. Witnesses in the courthouse for the trial were brought into the courtroom and the prosecution and defense both called out a list of those witnesses they anticipated calling during the sentencing hearing. It appeared that five Ritchie family members were on that defense list.

When 90-days was suggested to allow the probation office to prepare the pre-sentence report, defense counsel Jason Ransom asked the court if that timeframe could be expedited down to 60 days.

Ransom noted that his client has been incarcerated at RSW Regional Jail in a solitary confinement cell for 23 hours a day since his November 9, 2017 arrest – “It’s maddening,” Ransom said of his client’s jail confinement, likely imposed for his own protection.

While Athey said he would try to accommodate the defense request, he noted that the probation office was under a pretty heavy caseload right now. A probation office official present told the court the office was currently working on six other pre-sentence reports.

As discussion of court schedules and sentencing hearing witness availability took potential return dates, first into April and then May, it was agreed to return to the first Ritchie sentencing hearing date suggested – March 22.

The twins’ mother Tabitha Zimmerman, 29, has been charged on two counts of cruelty and injuries to children revolving around what prosecutors contend was a willful neglect of signs of a pattern of abuse by her former boyfriend. The Ritchie defense said in its opening statement that older marks on the children were the result of being active toddlers prone to falling and rough play with each other, not a sign of any pattern of abuse.

That is a contention Zimmerman’s attorney John Bell, who was an observer on both days of the Ritchie trial, is likely to argue as well. Following Tuesday’s developments Bell said Tuesday’s plea in the Ritchie case did not really impact his client’s defense – that the physical violence – described as disciplinary “smacking” by the defense on day one of the trial – Ritchie admitted to on November 8, 2017, was an aberration, rather than a pattern of behavior.

Zimmerman’s trial is scheduled for April 8-9-10 in the same Warren County Circuit Courtroom.

Tabitha Zimmerman at time of her arrest on charges she failed to act on indications of a pattern of behavior by her boyfriend toward her children.

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Crime/Court

Toddler death defense – ‘a horrific accident’ – prosecution ‘Really?’

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Chad Ritchie – Courtesy Photos RSW Jail

FRONT ROYAL – The defense scenario in the case of a 29-year-old man accused of Second Degree Murder in the death of his girlfriend’s 22-month-old toddler last year was the primary point of interest in first-day developments in the trial of Chad Andrew Ritchie.

That scenario presented by defense co-counsel Jason Ransom and Jonathan Silvester during opening statements Monday afternoon, December 10, is that Ritchie accidentally caused Malachi Zimmerman’s death in a frantic attempt to administer CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) after finding the child unresponsive and not breathing after leaving him for about 30 seconds while preparing him for a bath.

While acknowledging that Ritchie told authorities that he had “smacked” both Malachi and his twin brother Micah earlier in the day for misbehaving, not listening and fighting with each other – Malachi three times, his brother once – the defense contended that Malachi attempted to climb out of the tub while unattended, falling backward onto his head causing his initial traumatic symptoms.

Ransom told a 9-man, 5-woman jury including two alternates that Ritchie had administered CPR as one would to an adult, with two hands and two arms thrusting fully at the abdomen of the child. The result of the incorrectly-administered CPR was, not only stomach bruising found on the child, but a ruptured intestine that bled into the child’s stomach cavity eventually leading to cardiac arrest and death, the defense told the jury.

However, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton opened the commonwealth’s case by presenting witnesses that brought that scenario into question.

Among those witnesses were Warren County Sheriff’s Office Dispatcher Jessica Henry and first responders at the scene on the 900 block of Blue Mountain Road on November 8, 2017, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) Terrence Banks and Austin Cucciardo, the latter with Advanced Life Support (ALS) credentials.

Both Banks and Cucciardo agreed under cross-examination that incorrectly administered CPR could do damage to a child Malachi Zimmerman’s size. They noted CPR to a child that young and small should be administered with two fingers or two thumbs and less pressure than one would apply to an adult.

Cucciardo testified that in talking to Ritchie at the scene in an attempt to pin down a cause for the child’s condition, the defendant told him he had left the child in the bedroom while going to prepare the bath and found him unresponsive when he returned there.

“Are you sure it wasn’t the bathroom?” defense counsel asked about where Ritchie said he left the child.

“No, he said he left him in the bedroom,” Cucciardo replied.

Taking a different tack, defense counsel returned to its theme that Ritchie loved his fiancé’s children, telling Lt. Henry of the sheriff’s office that their calling him “daddy” was “one of the best things in his life.”

The defense told the jury in its opening statement that their client and Tabitha Zimmerman met at their workplace, Rubbermaid, and that Chad Ritchie had assumed the role of the father the children had never had from their biological father.

“Did Mr. Ritchie seem upset,” Ransom asked Cucciardo of his conversation at the scene with the defendant.

“He had a very blank stare on his face,” the first responder replied.

Cucciardo also testified that before taking over treatment from EMT Banks at the scene he had tried to establish some cause for the child’s condition. He said he ruled out an opiate overdose but “noted bruising and burns on the patient indicating that something else was going on.”

That supposition led to an immediate defense objection, which was sustained.

“Were you able to determine what caused the cardiac arrest,” Layton then asked his witness of his work at the scene.

“No,” Cucciardo replied.

During several cross-examinations, the defense elicited testimony from first responders that a towel on the bathroom floor showed signs of having the child’s head wrapped in it. They also elicited several observations that Malachi’s hair appeared to be wet.

In his testimony, EMT Banks said that after three rounds of two-minute CRP he received three “no shock advise” reports on attempts to defibrillate the child. Cucciardo later testified that meant that there was no shockable heart rhythm to revive. Warren County Fire and Rescue transported Malachi to Warren Memorial Hospital, where the toddler was pronounced dead.

The prosecution played Dispatcher Henry’s phone conversation with Ritchie to the jury. During that conversation, Henry tries to calm Ritchie down in order to talk him through the proper way to administer CPR to a toddler.

According to case records, the child’s mother Tabitha Zimmerman called the Warren County Sheriff’s Office at 6:36 p.m. Wednesday, November 8, 2017, to report that one of her 22-month old sons was not breathing. Zimmerman was not in the house, according to the documents, but had been told by Ritchie that one of her sons was not breathing.

Tabitha Zimmerman

According to the criminal complaint, “The mother stated that Chad Ritchie, her boyfriend and the person caring for her two children, had called her and stated he was with her son at their shared residence in Warren County.”

In the prosecution’s opening statement Layton told jurors that the trial was likely to be lengthy with much evidence presented – “Take nothing for granted – from either side,” he said.

Of the prosecution perspective on the case’s bottom line, Layton told the jury, “Malachi Zimmerman and his twin Micah began the day healthy in the custody of Chad Ritchie – at the end of the day Malachi Zimmerman, 22 months old, was at Warren Memorial Hospital dead; and his brother was being moved from hospital to hospital to be treated for his injuries.”

Day two of the trial will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, December 11, with the prosecution calling its seventh witness. In discussing when certain witnesses might be subject to recall in the defense case, Ransom estimated Wednesday or Thursday for recalls as the defense begins presenting its counterpoint to the prosecution scenario.

Malachi and Micah’s mother, 29-year-old Tabitha Zimmerman has also been charged on two counts of cruelty and injuries to children revolving around what prosecutors contend was a willful neglect of signs of a pattern of abuse by her boyfriend/fiancé Ritchie. The Ritchie defense said in its opening statement that older marks on the children were the result of being active toddlers prone to falling and rough play with each other, not a sign of any pattern of abuse.

Zimmerman’s trial is slated for this April. Her attorney John Bell was an interested observer at day one of the Ritchie trial. Tabitha Zimmerman is released on bond; Ritchie remains incarcerated at RSW Regional Jail.

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