“After a series of lengthy court proceedings in Ripley County, a 15-year-old accused of double murder will stand trial as an adult,” Prosecuting Attorney Ric Hertel wrote in a news release Sept. 4.
“Defendant Nickalas Kedrowitz, formerly of Osgood, was charged with two counts of murder after he admitted to smothering two children.” The charges were filed in Ripley Circuit Court Sept. 3, according to https://public.courts.in.gov/mycase, the Odyssey case management system used by Indiana courts.
“An affidavit, submitted by Indiana State Police detectives, reveals that Kedrowitz waited over a month after the first killing before committing the second,” the news release noted.
Christina McCartney and fiancé Stephen Ritz were living in an Osgood home with four children. Kedrowitz, the oldest, is the son of McCartney and Brian Kedrowitz.
The crimes occurred May 1 and July 20, 2017, Hertel announced at a press conference in Versailles Sept. 12, 2018.
Desiree McCartney, 2, Kedrowitz’s half sister, was transported to Margaret Mary Health, Batesville, then transferred to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she died May 6, 2017. Nathaniel Ritz, 11 months, the son of Stephen Ritz and another woman, not McCartney, was pronounced dead at MMH July 21, 2017.
According to the court document, the teen committed both murders by placing a towel or blanket over the noses and mouths of the children to stop their breathing. Autopsies performed by the Hamilton County, Ohio, coroner ruled both deaths as “homicide.”
The reason the press conference came so long after the crimes? It took over 16 months for investigators to decide the killings were intentional and not accidental, the prosecutor said.
After being charged as a juvenile, Kedrowitz’s attorneys argued he was incompetent to stand trial. Hertel explained, “To determine whether a defendant is competent, Indiana law requires a judge to determine whether a defendant understands the nature of the proceedings and can assist in his own defense.” A judge determined Kedrowitz competent after several days of testimony from multiple psychologists who evaluated the young man. Based on this testimony, the judge ruled that Kedrowitz clearly understood the proceedings and was assisting in his defense, based on his statements and behavior during the evaluations.
The court found that Ripley County prosecutors successfully proved that Kedrowitz should be waived from juvenile court and tried as an adult. Indiana law permits juvenile defendants as young as 12 to be tried as adults in murder cases. At the waiver hearing, prosecutors proved there was probable cause to believe that Kedrowitz committed both murders and that Kedrowitz was 13 at the time of the allegations. After the prosecution proved their case, Kedrowitz’s defense team tried to persuade the judge that it was in the best interest of both Kedrowitz and the safety and welfare of the community for Kedrowitz to remain in the juvenile justice system, according to the news release.
Prosecutors responded by admitting evidence that Kedrowitz has allegedly also mutilated small animals, and made threats to a classmate and teacher even after he was alleged to commit the murders. Prosecutors argued that those additional facts demonstrated Kedrowitz’s continued danger to the community.
Ripley Circuit Court Judge Ryan King conducted an initial hearing Sept. 4 at 10:30 a.m. He appointed two indigent counsel at the county’s expense to defend Kedrowitz, Mark Jones and Lynn Fledderman, Batesville. The judge also set two dates. A pretrial conference will take place Jan. 10, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. and a jury trial will start Feb. 18, 2020, at 9 a.m., according to Odyssey.
The defendant is being held at the Dearborn County Juvenile Detention Center, Lawrenceburg.