Baby’s death ruled homicide after sister hospitalized; man charged

Matthew Jason Chappell
Matthew Jason Chappell

OCONEE CO., S.C. (WSPA) – A baby’s death has been ruled a homicide and a man has been charged after the baby’s 3-year-old sibling was taken to the hospital this week.

Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis says 22-month-old Gwynne Ann-Marie Hess died June 11 in the pediatric intensive care unit at Greenville Memorial Hospital – two days after she was hospitalized after going into cardiac arrest at her home.

Hess was resuscitated by EMS after authorities were told she choked on a gummy snack. At the time, her death was ruled an accident.

On Thursday, Addis announced her manner of death has been ruled a homicide.

Deputies contacted the coroner’s office after Hess’s sister was hospitalized this week.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office says Hess’s 3-year-old sister suffered skull fractures after she was pushed into an object.

An arrest warrant states it happened at a residence on Windy Knoll Court in Westminster on Tuesday.

Matthew Jason Chappell, 25, has been charged with homicide by child abuse and child abuse inflicting great bodily injury.

Deputies say while investigating the alleged abuse this week, investigators determined that Chapell dropped Hess while she had food in her mouth, causing her to choke.

Chapell is not the children’s father, but lived with their mother, deputies say.

Deputies say Chappell stated he discovered blood on the 3-year-old around 3 p.m. Tuesday – around the same time the girl’s mother had reportedly left for work. Chappell told deputies he was unable to reach the girl’s mother by phone and the child was taken to Oconee Memorial Hospital before she was transferred to Greenville Memorial Hospital.

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