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Guilty: Former Richmond basketball star convicted of killing son, storing body in freezer

Posted at 10:44 AM, Jul 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-14 08:06:07-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — A jury has found Kassceen "Kass" Weaver, a former University of Richmond basketball player, guilty of murder, felony child neglect, and concealing a dead body charges in relation to the death of his 3-year-old son, Eliel Adon Weaver.

After killing his son, the Chesterfield man stored the child's body in a freezer, the jury found.

Deliberations began around 2:21 p.m. and reached their verdict around 6:26 p.m.

Adon suffered some sort of medical emergency on the night of Oct. 23, 2018 and died. Prosecutors alleged Kassceen hid his body in the freezer to hide wrongdoing.

After the verdict was announced, the judge revoked Kassceen's bond and he was taken into custody.

He faces up to 55 years in prison and will be sentenced on October 26, 2023 at 1 p.m.

"The death of a child is always tragic. The death of a child as a result of criminal behavior impacts, not just the lives of the child’s friends and family, but the entire community, which shares in their horror and grief. The Chesterfield Police Department diligently investigated this case and brought to light the actions of the defendant that led to his son’s death," Chesterfield County Commonwealth's Attorney Stacey Davenport said in a statement after the verdict. "As a member of this community and a parent, I am grateful for their work. I am also grateful to and proud of the members of my staff who worked to secure these convictions. While nothing will return this child to his family, I hope that those who love him can find some comfort in today’s verdicts."

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

Defense Witness

Kassceen did not take the stand in his own defense, but his legal team did call one expert witness. He was a medical examiner who reviewed the reports made by the state medical examiner and forensic anthropologist who testified for the prosecution.

The defense's expert testified that none of the fractures found on Adon could be the cause of death for him and added, while the skull fractures could be indicative of an underlying injury, there was nothing of the sort found.

He said the rib fractures that Adon had (with one being older and the other four happening around the time of death), were consistent with potential injuries from someone doing chest compressions on a child — something the mother of Adon testified to doing the two times he cried to the point of passing out and said Kassceen said he did on the second time, while she was rushing home from work.

The defense's expert said because of the state of decomposition of Adon's body at the time of autopsy, several other potential causes of death could not be ruled out including seizure, disease or allergic reaction. He added he disagreed with the state medical examiner's ruling that Adon's cause of death was multiple blunt force traumas, and he would have classified it as unknown.

He added, on questioning from the defense, that because if cause of death could be determined it would not be possible to know if seeking further medical attention could have prevented it or save someone.

However, on cross examination by the prosecution, he said that if someone were suffering some sort of serious medical emergency that a 911 call or visit to the hospital could be the approach to deal with it.

Motion to Strike

The defense then renewed their motion to strike the evidence in the case, arguing the prosecution had not proven that any action Kassceen did was responsible for something that would have caused Adon to suffer his medical emergency and eventually die. He added if the court believed he did die of blunt force trauma, no evidence tied Kassceen to those specific injuries.

He added they did not show evidence that Kassceen hid the body in an attempt to cover up an illegal act that cause Adon's death.

The judge ruled that the evidence showed Kassceen was the primary caregiver of Adon and the only one at home at the time he suffered a medical distress on Oct. 23, 2018.

The judge added Adon's mother testified that after Kassceen called her at work to say he had stopped breathing. As she made her way back she said Kassceen told her the boy was now fine after he performed CPR and was breathing. However, when she got into the home, Adon was either not breathing again or already dead (the prosecution has indicated they do not believe Kassceen actually performed these actions and Adon was revived).

The judge said this at least shows Adon stopped breathing at least once, maybe more, and the defense's own expert testified that if someone stops breathing, calling 911 should be done. And that because Adon later died (if the revival story is true), then it is circumstantial evidence that a 911 call or trip to the hospital nearby could have saved him and should be up to the jury to decide.

Prosecution Closing Arguments

In her closing arguments, Deputy Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney Rhanelle Collins-Meredith stood next to the bin Adon was kept in and told jurors that was his fate at the hands of his own father.

She argued they proved Adon was a slow, nonverbal, fussy child that was always bruised because Kassceen used his hands or a belt to administer punishment to his bottom and detailed a specific incident where Kassceen once kicked Adon down.

She said on the night of Adon’s death, Kassceen called his wife who was at work to say Adon is not breathing and to come home (despite knowing she does not have a car). And despite the mother telling Kassceen to call 911, he does not — and the defense’s own witness said that is something that should be done. Nor does he drive him to a hospital less than a mile away.

They said when the wife got home and asked to get additional medical help again, Kassceen said no because he was concerned about others seeing Adon’s bruising and taking away their older child.

Collins-Meredith said they then kept Adon’s body in a bin in the home until it started to smell and moved it to a freezer — all done to hide what he had done.

She added this case was like the old adage “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” She said they had an injured child (the medical examiner said Adon had fractures on his skull, ribs, and arm and ruled his death multiple blunt force trauma — but the cause of the trauma was not stated), Kassceen failing to seek medical attention, and the hiding of the body.

Defense Closing Arguments

Defense attorney Russ Stone started his closing arguments on Collins-Meredith’s adage and said prosecution does not know what happened and that was the point of all this — they see smoke, but have not proved there is a fire or in this case, criminal wrongdoing and failed to exclude all reasonable alternatives to what happened.

He added Adon’s death was a tragedy, but convicting an innocent man would not assuage that.

When Adon suffered his medical emergency, Stone said Kassceen called his wife in a panic and while she made her way home, he attempted to do chest compressions like he had seen her do nine days earlier to revive him.

He added they do not know what caused the medical emergency and, therefore, cannot say if calling 911 would have made a difference.

He said as to Adon’s fractures, no medical examiner said they caused his death and no evidence presented as to who or what inflicted the injuries (with chest compressions done by both mother and father being the possible cause of the rib injuries).

Stone said Kassceen was a proud and happy parent and the defense showed pictures of Kassceen and Adon together smiling.

He argued while the Weavers had an atypical approach to parenting (homeschool, no vaccinations, limited doctor visits, corporal punishment), it does not make them child abusers and added that these were joint decisions by the parents, not just Kassceen, and said the mother’s testimony was a bit self-serving.

He added some of her testimony conflicted with prior statements made to police when she was still charged in the case (the charges were later dropped), with the earlier testimony saying decisions were made jointly and that she saw the corporal punishment as no big deal.

Stone asked why the prosecution only pursued charges against Kassceen.

Regarding the issue of joint decisions, Stone said that was the case with placing Adon in the freezer and it was not to hide a crime, but to save his body for a later burial they would do themselves.

He asked the jurors not to let the emotions and horror of the case sway their judgment and to acquit his client.

Prosecution Rebuttal

In the final response, the prosecution reiterated that the jurors do not need to know the cause of death of Adon, but that he died because his father failed to get medical attention and then hid the body from the world. She said he was responsible for those actions (or inactions).

She added what parent would not seek additional medical help if their child stopped breathing rather than wait for the other parent to take 20-plus minutes to come home.

She then disputed the defense’s focus on photos of Adon and Kassceen together, saying they were when Adon was a baby, not a fussy three-year-old.

She again argued the use of the freezer was not to preserve Adon, but to hide him.

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

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