Donny Hancock, a 20-year-old father from Backus Township in Roscommon County, is accused of having violently abused his infant son, causing his eventual death. At the preliminary examination, the baby’s mother provided testimony for the court, detailing the fact that she had no idea that Hancock was abusing their son and that she had nothing to do with the baby’s death.
According to Heather, the young mother of baby Zhain, she and Hancock lived at his mother’s house. On the night of the incident that lead to Zhain’s death, she says she and Hancock were fighting about money and unemployment. After the argument escalated, she says, Hancock went to the baby’s room, but mere moments later he was calling for help because the baby was unresponsive.
The 911 call came in from the baby’s grandmother, who said that her infant grandson wasn’t breathing. Emergency responders arrived and took the 1-month-old to a local hospital where he was declared dead. But after an autopsy was conducted, the pathologist told investigators that there had been severe head trauma and signs of previous injuries, which led to suspicions of abuse.
Officers interviewed both Heather and Hancock numerous times, and both of them denied having ever hurt the baby. But after several weeks of maintaining the same story, Hancock finally broke down and told officers that he had hit the baby in the head repeatedly. The reason, he told Detective John Wybraniec, was that it was easier to kill the baby, and he hadn’t wanted to hurt Heather. In addition, he also admitted to having abused the baby several times over the seven to nine days leading up to Zhain’s death
As of now, Heather is not a suspect in the case, and no charges have been brought against her. But Hancock’s attorney pointed out in court that the police should have insisted that Heather undergo a polygraph. According to Detective Wybraniec, however, the police had planned the tests, but they were cancelled once Hancock confessed.
According to the prosecutor, because Hancock admitted to the abuse, he should be charged with first degree child abuse. But the defense says the charge should be reduced to Second degree child abuse. After listening to all of the testimonies provided by investigators on the case, Heather, and the pathologist, the Judge has bound him over for trial. It will now be up to a jury.
Although we don’t know the dates of Hancock’s next court date, we do know that his pretrial will take place in September, at which point his trial will be scheduled. We will keep you updated as we follow this case.