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Former Richmond basketball star on trial after son found dead in family freezer

Posted at 6:02 PM, Jul 10, 2023

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The trial for a Chesterfield man and former University of Richmond basketball star charged with the death of his young son and hiding his body in a freezer for several years got underway on Monday. Kassceen "Kass" Weaver faces felony murder, felony child neglect, and concealing a dead body charges.

The case made international headlines in 2021 when the child's body was discovered in a freezer at Weaver's Chesterfield home.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article contains graphic details about the death of a child. Reader discretion is advised.

Prosecutors alleged Weaver, 50, was responsible for the death of his youngest son, Eliel Adon Weaver (who went by Adon), and tried to conceal the child's death.

In previous court hearings, the Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has said Adon died of blunt force trauma and had suffered, among other injuries, a skull fracture and multiple rib fractures.

They said the child's cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Day one of the trial on Monday was dominated by jury selection as the prosecution and defense asked potential jurors about their awareness of the case, showed pictures of the child's body, and asked about their viewpoints on parental rights when it came to raising their children.

Weaver's wife was initially charged in connection with the death as well, but prosecutors later withdrew the charges.

Kassceen Weaver has since been charged with aggravated malicious wounding involving his wife and will stand trial in that case next month.

Prosecution Opening Statements

Following jury selection, which wrapped around 4:00 p.m., the prosecution and defense gave their opening statements to the jury describing how they saw the case and what they intended to prove.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Joshua Loren said the case began on May 4, 2021 when the brother of Adon's mother called police and informed them that Adon's body was being kept in a freezer at the home. Loren said the mother told him this during a phone call when she asked him to come from out of state to come get her.

Loren said when police executed a search warrant, they found Adon's body in a large freezer in the family's garage inside a vacuum-sealed bag and plastic storage bin.

He added an autopsy of Adon revealed he had skull fractures, a fracture of one of his upper arms, and rib fractures. He said some of the rib fractures had signs of healing and others did not.

Loren said Kassceen was a stay-at-home dad and primary caregiver to the couple's two sons, including homeschooling them.

He said on some day in October 2018, Kassceen called his wife at work and told her that something was wrong with Adon. By the time she got home (the family only had one car and it took time to find a ride), the child had died.

Loren said the mother wanted to take Adon to the emergency room near the family's house, but said Kassceen did not want to as Adon had bruises on his body and was worried their other son would be taken away.

Instead, Loren said, the family wrapped up Adon's body, eventually bought a freezer, and then kept him there.

Defense Opening Statement

In their opening statement, one of Kassceen's attorney's, Emilee Hasbrouck, said what Kassceen went through was every parent's worst nightmare. She said that while this was a tragedy and it is human nature to find someone to blame, some tragedies have no answers and Kassceen was not to blame in this case.

Hasbrouck said Kassceen, in the pain and heartbreak of losing a child, made a decision to preserve the remains because he could not bear to let go of his child, not to conceal wrongdoing. She added Kassceen was a loving, dedicated father who loved Adon.

Hasbrouck also mentioned that the Weaver family always did what they thought was best for their children, but chose options that might not be considered the usual choice including delivering Adon via home birth and choosing not to get Adon vaccinated or to take him to see a pediatrician. She added that it is every parent's right to choose what to do for their children based on their beliefs and values.

She added that Adon was developmentally delayed and had crying episodes to the extent that he would pass out.

She said he had one of these episodes ten days before his death and on the day of his death. Hasbrouck said that Adon's mother performed chest compressions on Adon both times and the rib fractures found in the autopsy were consistent with that medical procedure.

She added Adon had no injuries that would have caused his death and that Adon was well-nourished, not neglected.

She added the family chose not to report the death to save his body from undergoing an invasive autopsy (which it eventually did) and because they had planned to buy a house with a large backyard and bury him there.

Hasbrouck said after Adon's death, his mother bathed him and placed him in his crib before they wrapped him up. She added that that may seem shocking, but asked jurors to consider all of the decisions made by the family. She also asked the jurors look past the fact Adon's body was kept in a freezer and that that alone, did not meet the burden of proof required to convict Kassceen.

Day Two Expectations

The trial, which is scheduled for a total of five days (including Monday), is set to resume at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

The prosecution will begin by calling their witnesses and are expected to call over a dozen, including Adon's mother.

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