Ohio Man Indicted After Allegedly Beating 5-Year-Old Son to Death, Then Calling 911

An Ohio man who allegedly told 911 dispatchers he had beaten his 5-year-old son to death with a baseball bat has pleaded not guilty to two counts of aggravated murder, PEOPLE confirms.

Matthew Ponomarenko, 32, has been in custody on $5 million bond since March 25, when police investigators say he murdered his young son, Jax.

On Friday, the Parma father was also arraigned on two counts of endangering children. He may face the death penalty if convicted on all four charges.

Two grand juries — one in April, the other last week — returned indictments against Ponomarenko, who allegedly called police to his home on the day of the murder.

By phone, he allegedly told a police dispatcher he used a baseball bat to strike the child.

Ponomarenko further claimed in the call he heard voices during the violent attack, according to authorities.

Officers arrived to find the child lying on the living room floor, “suffering from multiple blunt force injuries to his head and face,” reads a statement from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

Jax was pronounced dead at the scene.

“It is tragic and unimaginable that a father could murder his own son,” prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “Our thoughts remain with the victim’s family and friends as they grieve this tragedy.”

Ponomarenko’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

The defendant, Cleveland.com reports, was arrested in 2017 on endangering children charges after allegedly leaving his then 1-year-old son naked in the street while he yelled at cars.

Police said Ponomarenko later admitted to taking meth, psychedelic mushrooms and PCP.

The site did not disclose the resolution to that 2017 case.

 

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