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Legal analyst on what's next for ex-Richmond basketball star convicted of killing son, storing body in freezer

Expert: 'The case law clearly supports separate trials in a situation like this'
Posted at 8:10 PM, Jul 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-14 21:20:55-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — While a jury convicted Kassceen Weaver Thursday on all the charges he faced related to the death of his young son and subsequent hiding in a freezer for several years, another criminal case awaits.

After a four-day trial and roughly four hours of deliberation a Chesterfield County Circuit Court jury convicted Weaver on felony murder, felony child neglect, and concealing a dead body for the death of his youngest son Eliel Adon, 3.

Eliel Adon
Eliel Adon

CBS 6 Legal Analyst Todd Stone said the felony murder charge was the easiest type of murder charge for prosecutors to choose because of the specific circumstances in the case.

"If they hadn't charged it that way and they charged it as a regular murder, then they would have to prove maliciousness and they'd have to prove an intent to kill. And that can be hard to do in a case that's two years old by the time they even discover that it exists," said Stone, referring to the death happening in October 2018, but not being discovered until May 2021. "In most criminal cases, especially in most homicides, you've got the collection of evidence and the crime scene processed and witnesses interviewed very soon after the offense occurs."

Friday, members of Weaver's legal team sent a statement to CBS 6 about Thursday's verdict.

"Kass Weaver grieves the loss of his son and maintains that he is innocent of these charges. Mr. Weaver will continue to pursue all legal options to prove his innocence," said attorney Doug Ramseur.

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Trial Exhibit

Weaver will be sentenced in October and faces up to 55 years in prison, but before that happens, he will stand trial next month -- accused of the aggravated malicious wounding of his now estranged wife sometime between January 2021 and May 4, 2021 (the date Adon's body was discovered by police).

The two charges were given separate trials, Stone said, because it would be prejudicial to try him at the same time for the separate charges.

"The case law clearly supports separate trials in a situation like this, where you've got an allegation of abuse against the adult and you've also got allegations of abuse or neglect with the child. Because, obviously, a jury sitting there hearing all that evidence, could very well think, 'Well, if he abused her, he probably abused the child,'" said Stone. "That kind of crosses a line and it denies him the right to a fair trial, really, based on the evidence in each specific case."

Kass weaver.png
Kass Weaver was convicted of killing his son and hiding the child's body in a freezer.

Weaver's wife, who testified against him in this week's trial, initially faced charges related to Adon's death. But, last October, prosecutors said they withdrew the charges after reviewing the evidence and determining levels of culpability. The mother's lawyer alleged her client was a victim of emotional and physical abuse by Weaver.

Several online comments on CBS 6's coverage of the Weaver trial this week have asked why the mother was not also facing charges in Adon's death. Stone said he understands the outcry, but said prosecutors have to look at the big picture in cases.

"There's a big difference between moral responsibility and a criminal legal responsibility and being able to prove that," added Stone. "There's something called duress. They probably excused some of her conduct because they believe she was under duress from him. And the prosecutor, obviously, thought he was more culpable than she was and that you can't probably have a successful prosecution of both at the same time."

Stone said Weaver's conviction could only be brought up in certain circumstances, like if Weaver took the stand in his defense (something he did not do in this week's trial), but a judge would be hesitant to allow it for similar reasons to why there are separate trials.

"A judge wants to protect the record in that case and there has to be a clear line between those so that he can have a fair trial on each of those."

Eliel Adon
Eliel Adon

Stone did note that the maximum sentence for aggravated malicious wounding is life and since Weaver faces up to 55 years in prison for this week's trial, prosecutors could use that as leverage to get a plea deal in the upcoming trial.

Jury selection for this trial took almost the entire day as the prosecution, defense, and judge sought to seat 12 people (and two alternates) who could hear and see some difficult evidence in a case that has been highly publicized and still remain impartial. Stone said because of the proximity of the two trials, it could take even longer in August.

"What's important is that a judge can become comfortable that they're seating a jury that, not necessarily has never heard about the case, but that they're willing to set aside everything that they've heard in the past."

You can read CBS 6's complete coverage of day four of the trial here, day three of the trial here, day two of the trial here and day one of the trial here.

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

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