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Dad Who Beat 5-year-old Son Dead with Baseball Bat to Face Death Penalty After New Charges Added: Reports

An Ohio man arrested for beating his son to death with a baseball bat will now face the death penalty after being indicted with additional charges.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Matthew Ponomarenko, 31, called 911 in March and told the dispatcher that he’d just killed his son while hearing voices and left his body “in the living room.”

The dispatcher kept him on the phone until police arrived on the scene, although he became increasingly quiet as the operator asked him questions.

“When did you kill your son?” she asked.

Ponomarenko: “I’m shaking.”

Dispatcher: “I understand. When did this happen?”

Ponomarenko never answered the question and was silent, except for heavy breathing, until he said, “They’re here,” and hung up the phone. When police arrived, they found the suspect’s son, Jax, dead inside a home at Russell Avenue near West 45th Street, in Parma.

Ponomarenko was subsequently arrested for murder. Last week, a grand jury indicted Ponomarenko on additional charges of aggravated murder and child endangerment, CBS 27 reports.

Cuyahoga County spokesperson Mary Louise Madigan told Cleveland.com that the Department of Children and Families had previously conducted an investigation into Ponomarenko that ended in 2019. The investigation began in 2017 when police found Ponomarenko and Jax, then 1, naked near Pleasant Lake Blvd and York Rd in Parma.

Matthew Ponomarenko’s mother called police on that occasion, saying he was having a mental episode, running after people who drove by him, and cursing at them.

He was given a citation that said he left the boy in the middle of the road while he yelled at people. The document said he told officers he took methamphetamine, psychedelic mushrooms, and PCP. He was taken to a hospital for treatment, the citation said, and Jax was placed in the custody of a relative.

Ponomarenko ended up pleading no contest to child endangerment. Years later, he was charged with murdering his son after an autopsy determined the boy died from blunt force trauma.

“It is one of the most vicious attacks committed by a human being I have ever seen,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a statement Friday. “The fact that it was a father who did this to his young son is incomprehensible to me.”

Ponomarenko remains behind bars on a $5 million bond. Check back for updates.

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[Feature Photo: Jax Ponomarenko/Handout]