A judge on Tuesday found enough evidence to forward capital murders against a Woodbridge man accused of killing his wife and a Prince William County police officer in February to next month’s grand jury.
Ronald Hamilton, 32, is accused of shooting and killing his wife, 29-year-old Crystal Hamilton, at their home on Lashmere Court in Woodbridge, and then shooting three officers who responded to her 911 call for help, killing Officer Ashley Guindon and injuring officers Jesse Hempen and David McKeown.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Prince William General District Court Judge Robert Coleman ruled there is enough evidence to send six charges against Hamilton, including capital murder of police officer and first-degree murder charges, to grand jury in Prince William Circuit Court May 2. If the grand jury returns indictments, a trial date will then be set.
In court, officers who responded to the scene described what happened that day.
Officer Anthony Pharphan said he saw officers Guindon and McKeown in their patrol car shortly after he started his shift at 5 p.m. and sent them a computer message greeting Guindon, a newly sworn officer who was on her first shift.
About 40 minutes later, Pharphan heard a call on his radio from McKeown stating that he had been shot and needed assistance.
Pharphan said when he arrived, he saw McKeown lying outside the house, injured and appearing “lifeless” and Hempen lying in the driveway, “rocking back and forth and holding his leg.” He did not see Guindon at first, but later learned she was in the driveway, near Hempen, he said.
Pharphan said he saw a man, later identified as Hamilton, “poke his head out the front door” and quickly close it, before opening it again less than a minute later and surrendering. Officers handcuffed Hamilton while other officers, including Pharphan, searched the home for other people. Officers found Crystal Hamilton shot in an upstairs bedroom. She was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Sgt. Joseph Medawar, supervisor for the police squad that included the injured officers, testified that he rushed from his office to the scene as soon as he heard the radio call about an officer needing assistance.
Medawar said he saw officers leading Hamilton away from the home and directed them to put him in the backseat of the nearest police cruiser.
Medawar then began talking to Hamilton in the cruiser, first asking him if any other people or weapons that could harm the officers were in the home.
Hamilton said that his wife was inside.
“I said, ‘Is she OK?’” Medawar testified. “He said, ‘No, she’s dead.’”
Hamilton also said that there was an AK-47 rifle in the foyer of the home. Police also recovered a handgun in the grass in front of the house, according to court testimony.
Medawar then read Hamilton his Miranda rights and asked him what happened, he said.
“He started crying and said, ‘I ruined my life,’” Medawar testified. “He asked me to get my gun out and shoot him.”
Medawar said he wouldn’t shoot Hamilton, but again asked him to tell him what happened, he said.
Medawar said Hamilton told him, “The officers were storming in so I shot them.”
Medawar said other officers then walked past the cruiser with Guindon, who they were taking to seek medical attention and Hamilton asked if the officers were OK. Medawar said he did not answer him.
Hamilton went on to say that he shot the officers with the AK-47, which he had owned for a while, Medawar said.
Medawar said he asked why he shot the officers.
“He said he didn’t know. He said he thinks he snapped and he might have PTSD,” Medawar testified, adding that Hamilton later said he was a combat veteran who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hamilton said he had not been diagnosed with PTSD, but told Medawar he thinks he has it.
According to his military service records, Hamilton served two yearlong deployments in Iraq. At the time of his arrest, Hamilton was active-duty Army staff sergeant who had been assigned to the Pentagon. He most recently worked as an information technology specialist with the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Joint Service Support Center.
Medawar said he also asked Hamilton why he shot his wife and he said “they were arguing.”
According to an affidavit for a search warrant filed this month in Prince William Circuit Court, one of Crystal Hamilton’s friends told police that she had talked to her on Facebook the day of her death and “provided details of an ongoing argument between her and her husband, Ronald Hamilton.”
Medawar said that when he asked what had happened, Hamilton also commented that “the officers showed a lot of restraint.” Medawar asked if Hamilton was trying to “commit suicide by cop” and he said no, but he said “he thought they were going to shoot him.”
Soon after that, Hamilton was taken to the police station for further questioning, Medawar testified.
Medawar said he then went to Fairfax Inova hospital, where police officers soon learned that Guindon had died of her injuries. The other two officers were hospitalized and survived.
Earlier this month, on April 4, a Prince William Circuit Court grand jury indicted Hamilton on 10 other charges — two counts of capital murder, two counts of aggravated malicious wounding, two counts of attempted capital murder of a police officer and four firearms charges. The two counts of capital murder that Hamilton has been indicted on allege that he killed two people within a three-year period and that he killed two people in the same act. Both charges refer to the deaths of Crystal Hamilton and Guindon.
Hamilton, who wore a dark blue suit and was surrounded by several guards during the hearing, spoke only once, to answer “yes” when the judge asked him to confirm he was ready to proceed with the preliminary hearing.
He will next appear in Prince William Circuit Court Thursday, when a trial date is scheduled to be set for the charges he has already been indicted on.
This article was written by InsideNova.