CLEVELAND (WJW) — A man who told a 911 dispatcher “I just killed my son,” in March 2021, and who was later indicted on aggravated murder in Cuyahoga County pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced to life in prison.
Matthew J. Ponomarenko, 34, of Parma, tortured and beat his 5-year-old son Jax to death at a Russell Avenue residence on March 25, 2021.
Judge Timothy McGinty on Thursday handed down a combined sentence of life in prison with eligibility for parole after 45 years on three counts including aggravated murder, endangering children and a kidnapping charge that was downgraded from a capital murder charge as part of his plea agreement.
He could face an additional four years in prison before parole eligibility under indefinite sentencing rules set by Ohio’s Reagan Tokes Law.
A second count of child endangering was dismissed.
Ponomarenko was set for trial in February. An upcoming pretrial date was moved to Thursday, Nov. 9, for “plea and sentencing,” Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court records show.
On March 25, 2021, he told a 911 dispatcher he was hearing voices, FOX 8 News previously reported. Neighbors said they heard a commotion before police arrived on scene.
Investigators found evidence of “torture” and “reckless abuse.”
Defense attorneys on Thursday said they would withdraw a claim that Ponomarenko suffered from a serious mental illness, which would have required proof presented in a separate hearing.
A pretrial report found he was competent to stand trial.
Ponomarenko pleaded not guilty to his indictment in August and was held on a $5 million bond, court records show.
He was credited for 960 days of jail time served.