On March 25, 2021, Matthew Ponomarenko, 34, called 911 from his home in Parma, Ohio, to report that he had killed his son Jax, 5.
“What do you mean you just killed your son?” the dispatcher said, according to audio released by cleveland.com.
“I hear voices,” Ponomarenko said.
He said he didn’t know why he killed the child.
Now, more than two years later, He pleaded guilty to the crime and was sentenced to life in prison. After 45 years behind bars, he is eligible for parole.
The charges are aggravated murder, kidnapping and child endangerment.
Ponomarenko’s behavior has put Jax in danger before. Accordingly, he pleaded no contest to a child endangerment case from 2017 Cleveland. Authorities said he left his then-1-year-old son in the middle of the street and yelled at people. He told police he had used substances such as meth and PCP, authorities said.
Jax’s uncle, Johnathan Cherni, told me WOIO A report dated March 26, 2021 reported that the child was autistic and used a tablet to communicate.
He described the murder as sudden. Matthew Ponomarenko was recently released from a behavioral center and was off medication but appeared to be OK.
“My mom dropped him off today,” Cherni said. “He was fine. He was lively, completely content and suddenly we are caught up in it all.”
Officers responded to the scene on Russell Avenue on March 25.
They arrested Matthew Ponomarenko in the front yard. Inside, they found Jax in the living room. The child suffered blunt force trauma to the head and face.
“Matthew Ponomarenko brutally beat and killed his own son,” said prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley. “With this sentence, I hope the family can find some peace and comfort. May Jax’s memory live on in their hearts forever.
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