Preble County, Ohio Prosecutor's OfficeMartin P. Votel, Prosecuting Attorney

Chastity Hall Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter

Published on September 14th, 2015

Summary

Chastity Hall, age 35, has been found guilty of two counts of “Involuntary Manslaughter” and two counts of “Endangering Children” for abandoning her children over night on February 21, 2015. Her children, Malea Bradburn (age 10) and Malachi Bradburn (age 9), perished in the fire which destroyed the Defendant’s home while she out partying with friends.

On Friday, September 11, 2015, the Preble County Court of Common Pleas, Judge David N. Abruzzo, released a written decision finding Chastity Hall guilty of two counts of “Involuntary Manslaughter”, felonies of the first degree, and two counts of “Endangering Children”, felonies of the third degree. A Presentence Investigation was ordered, but no sentencing date has yet been announced. A felony of the first degree carries a maximum prison sentence of eleven years and a felony of the third degree carries a maximum sentence of three years in state custody.

The written decision was issued over a week after the conclusion of a two-day bench trial held in the Court of Common Pleas on August 31 and September 1, 2015. The defendant, represented by counsel H. Steven Hobbs, waived her right to a jury and chose instead to have the trial judge act as the trier of fact. The State of Ohio was represented at trial by Prosecuting Attorney Martin P. Votel.

The charges in the case arose from the Defendant’s behavior on Friday night, February 20, 2015 leading into the morning of Saturday, February 21, 2015. The evidence in the case demonstrated that the Defendant was the single mother of Malea Bradburn, age 10, and Malachi Bradburn, age 9 and that she had asked family members to babysit the children that Friday night. When the family members refused, the Defendant became angry and the police ordered her off her father’s property. At approximately 11:30P.M. that night, after the children had gone to sleep, the Defendant left the children alone and went to the local VFW where she met friends and had a shot and beer. The Defendant then went to the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Eaton where she stayed until 1:30A.M.

It was as this point that the Defendant went home briefly to freshen her make-up and check on the children. By 2:05A.M, however, she was at 230 Club, where she ordered a shot a beer. She then went to an “after-party” at a local residence where she stayed until approximately 3:30A.M. The Defendant “got drunk and lost her keys”, and next went to the home of a local Eaton man she had met at the after-party. The Defendant stayed at his house until approximately 6:30A.M. A friend who lived near-by gave the Defendant a ride home at 6:50A.M., at which time she learned that her home had burned down over night and that both of her children had died in the fire.

The evidence at trial also demonstrated that the fire was reported at 3:43 A.M. shortly after the Defendant left the after-party. The cause of the fire could not be determined, but two expert witnesses presented by the State concluded that the fire had started in the Defendant’s master bedroom of the home. The State’s case was premised on the argument that the Defendant had violated her duty to protect her children, and that her failure to stay home and supervise the children was a direct cause of their deaths, and that their deaths were legally foreseeable.

PROSECUTING ATTORNEY MARTIN P. VOTEL: “This is one of the most tragic cases I’ve seen in my eighteen years as a prosecutor in Preble County. The verdicts in this case are certainly legally and morally proper, but unfortunately no verdict or punishment can undo what happened to Malea and Malachi. These young children needed and deserved the protection of their mother, who was their only parent. The Defendant’s wholesale abandonment of her children in order to go bar-hopping and partying until the light of day was offensive and it was criminal. The thoughts and prayers of the Preble County law enforcement community remain with Malea and Malachi.”