HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Charles Connetti III, 26, of Kiln pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of a 15-month-old child Thursday. Connetti was accused of killing his former girlfriend's son, Maddox Vieregge. The defendant was set for trial on April 2, 2018, but announced that he was choosing to enter a guilty plea. The judge delayed sentencing until April.
According to a release, an investigation began March 31, 2016, after Hancock County deputies responded to a 911 call at the defendant's address. Deputies say they found the victim unconscious and unresponsive. Deputies say witnesses at the scene said the child had been in the "exclusive" care of the defendant during the 30 minutes prior to law enforcement being called.
AMR transported the child to Hancock Medical Center who then transferred the child to Ocshner Hospital in New Orleans where he passed away April 2, 2016. Autopsy results showed the toddler died from head trauma. Investigators said the injuries included swelling of the brain and trouble breathing because of blood in the boy's lungs.
"All doctors who treated the child said he had injuries to his head which were consistent with non-accidental trauma. The medical examiner, Dr. Mark LeVaughn, performed an autopsy and concurred with these findings," said ADA Chris Daniel, who prosecuted the case.
Connetti's mother, Carmen Connetti said her son was innocent. She claimed Maddox was hurt when he fell out of bed and hit his head on a metal lock-box; However, investigators said the boy's injuries were not consistent with that story.
During the plea hearing, the defendant told the judge that he was high on methamphetamine at the time of the incident, and stated, "I tossed [the child] on the trunk of the car, and he fell and hit his head. He was not responding, so I shook him and then took him to his mother."
The defendant will face a prison sentence of up to 40 years in prison for his conviction. He will not be eligible for parole or early release