Emotions run high as graphic new details revealed in Jacelyn O'C - WBNG.com: Binghamton-area News, Weather, Sports

Emotions run high as graphic new details revealed in Jacelyn O'Connor murder

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NORWICH (WBNG) -- There were several new developments that unfolded Tuesday afternoon in Norwich regarding the death of 11-year-old Jacelyn O'Connor.

The two men accused of killing her were both scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. James Brower, 36 and Tobias Rundstrom-Wooding, 34, have been charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors say Brower and Rundstrom-Wooding were in a romantic relationship. Prosecutors say they acted together to rape and kill Jacelyn in the early morning hours of July 30 at a home in Norwich. 

Prosecutors say Brower’s two sons were the half-brothers of Jacelyn.
     
Both Brower and Rundstrom Wooding were scheduled to have preliminary hearings. That is where prosecutors must prove there is probable cause for the case to move forward. Rundstrom-Wooding waived the right to have his hearing. Brower appeared in court Tuesday afternoon.  The cases against both men will proceed.

Jacelyn's Biological Mother

The mother of murder victim Jacelyn O'Connor was emotional as she spoke out Tuesday afternoon.

Mandy Martinez, who lives in the Bronx, says she hasn't seen her daughter in more than three years because Martinez has been battling addiction. Martinez was at the Town of Norwich Court Tuesday. She yelled "Why Jimmy?" several times as James Brower entered the courthouse. She says the two are former lovers.

Martinez added that Jacelyn suffered ongoing abuse throughout her life.

“I can't believe that everybody has come together like this. I didn't know she meant that much to everybody,” Martinez said.

Martinez says she has gotten sober and wanted to reconnect with her daughter. She said the two would text and video chat often. Martinez says she would send money to Jacelyn as well.

She was passionate about her feelings toward Brower. She says the two didn't see eye-to-eye at all and he once asked if he could adopt Jacelyn, to which she said, "No."

"I never wanted my kids alone with him," Martinez said. "But due to my past choices, I had no choice. And I feel like I am being punished. I feel like I am being punished for this."

Jacelyn's Custodial Mother

Jacelyn's custodial mother is a woman named Rebecca Hamm. She says she took care of Jacelyn, along with her own children. Hamm tells 12 News that Jacelyn was at Brower's home regularly.

"She has been there all the time. She goes there every summer," Hamm said. "All through the summer she goes to visit. She goes there every other weekend. This has never happened. I have never felt that she was unsafe there and I just want the truth."

Hamm feels she is caught in the middle of this case. She is close with Brower's children and other members of his family.

"Our minds are just going around in circles," she said holding back tears. "When we close our eyes, we see it. We don't know what to know. We don't know what to think until we know the truth. We are never going to be settled. But justice needs to be paid, and I don't think there is enough justice out that that will be paid for what they did to her."

Brower's brother, Anthony Wilchynski stood by Hamm's side during an interview with the media. He says he feels torn. 

"I am open to whatever," he said. "I am not going to say, 'Oh there is no way he did it.' I feel that in my heart, and I believe that in my heart. But in my mind, he was there. He was in the home. So it is very well possible he did it."

Preliminary Hearing Testimony

Testimony Tuesday revealed new, graphic details about what happened the night Jacelyn was killed.

Four witnesses testified for the prosecution during James Brower's preliminary hearing. Again, Runstrom-Wooding waived his right to have a hearing and is currently in Chenango County Jail with Brower.

New York State Police Trooper Christopher Conti testified first. He arrested Brower. Conti testified Brower said "just kill me," shortly after being taken into custody.

NYSP Forensic Investigator Benjamin Carlin testified next. He said he found an image of child porn on Runstrom-Wooding computer depicting two young girls. He also says he found also found 21 Google searches about overdoses in the early morning hours of July 30. Police believe Jacelyn was raped and killed around 3-4 a.m.

NYSP Investigator Jamieson Tefft was the next witness. The 911 tape was played for the court to hear. Tefft responded to the call. Brower called 911 saying he believed Jacelyn was dead. Brower's two sons told him around 10:45 a.m. that day they thought she was dead, Tefft testified. Brower explained to the operator that his sons make sick jokes like that often and he did not believe them, the investigator said. Brower would not call 911 until 11:13 a.m. that morning.

Tefft then described the injuries to the Jacelyn. He said they indicated a sexual assault had occurred. He described seeing blood on the bed, floor and on her body. He described her face as being "purple."

He also described Brower as being "unusually calm," when he arrived and when he was being interviewed. Brower told Tefft Jacelyn had been sick a few days before but that after giving her medicine, she was feeling much better, according to the testimony.

An autopsy determined Jacelyn died of asphyxiation, and there were signs of a recent sexual assault.

After more than 90 minutes of graphic testimony, the judge concluded there was enough evidence to proceed with charges against Brower.

The prosecution argued Brower staged the 911 call and worked with Rundstrom-Wooding to create a story about what happened. The prosecution believes both men were present in the room when Jacelyn died.

What happens next?

Both Brower and Rundstrom-Wooding will have their cases go in front of a grand jury within the next 45 days, according to Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride. Grand Jury is secret to the public. Only prosecutors and those involved in the case will know when it happens.

Brower's attorney spoke to the media after the hearing. He anticipates both men will go to trial, but not together.

"There is a conflict of interest here. So there will be separate trials," Brower's attorney John Cameron said.  

An attorney for Rundstrom-Wooding, Scott Clippinger, previously said his client "intends to fight this to the end.''

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