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Jury selection begins in trial of teen accused of killing two siblings at 13

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Posted at 10:08 PM, Aug 10, 2021

RIPLEY COUNTY — Jury selection has begun in the murder trial of a 17-year-old being charged as an adult in connection with the 2017 deaths of his two siblings.

Nickalas Kedrowtiz, now 17, was just 13-years-old when detectives say he told them he put a towel over 23-month-old Desiree McCartney's head and a blanket over 11-month-old Nathaniel Ritz's head a few months later to "set them free" from "hell," according to court documents.

The Ripley County Prosecutor's Office said Tuesday the jury trial is expected to last three days and the state will start presenting evidence on Monday.

Scripps station WCPO previously reported court documents say authorities responded to a home in Osgood for reports of a 23-month-old not breathing on May 1, 2017. First responders took the child to Margaret Mary Community Hospital; the child was later transported to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. She died on May 6, 2017, according to Ripley County Prosecutor Richard Hertel.

Less than three months later, authorities responded to the same home for an 11-month-old child who was not breathing, WCPO reported. First responders took the child to Margaret Mary Community Hospital, where the child later died. A doctor told authorities the child died of asystole, a form of cardiac arrest, court documents state.

The deaths of Ritz and McCartney were both eventually ruled by coroners to be caused by asphyxiation and the manners were ruled homicides.

Kedrowtiz told authorities he had to save his siblings from "hell and the chains of fire," according to court documents.

"(The teen) repeated a couple of times that he had to free them from the hell on earth," court documents say. "(He) also said he didn't want them to have to live in the hell that he did."

Kedrowtiz told investigators he put a blanket on his 11-month-old brother's head. Court documents state Kedrowtiz said by the time he told his mom, his brother "was almost gone."

According to court records, Kedrowtiz told investigators he put a towel over the head of his 23-month-old sister "to set her free to heaven."

In August 2019, a year after he was arrested and charged with two counts of murder, the case was moved from juvenile court to the Ripley County Circuit and Kedrowitz was going to be tried as an adult.

In the court order, Ripley County Circuit Court Judge Ryan King said a doctor diagnosed Kedrowitz with Antisocial Personality Disorder. The doctor said Kedrowitz could "step over your dead body" without a care and is a lifelong danger.

The order also alleges he mutilated animals for entertainment and told his aunt, who has diabetes and a prosthetic leg, "maybe she just needs to die" because of her health conditions.

King and a probation officer both said the juvenile system wouldn't be able to address and continue to address Nickalas' needs, especially before he turned 21.

"The juvenile justice system is extremely limited in duration," King wrote. "Nickalas would only be in the juvenile justice system for approximately five years. This is insufficient given that Nickalas needs long-term care and supervision. Leaving Nickalas in the juvenile justice system does not guarantee long-term care and supervision. In fact, it permits, if not guarantees, the opposite of that. Anything that may or may not happen after Nickalas reaches the age of 21 is totally speculative and would, by definition, not be part of the juvenile justice system."

Previous reporting from Scripps station WCPO was included in this report.