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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Prosecutors Press Case for Death Penalty in Murder of Wife, Rookie Cop

Last month a jury in Prince William County, Virginia convicted Ronald Hamilton of capital murder in the shooting deaths of his wife and a rookie police officer on her first shift.

MANASASS, Va.  (CN) - Last month a jury in Prince William County, Virginia convicted Ronald Hamilton of capital murder in the shooting deaths of his wife and a rookie police officer on her first shift.

On Tuesday, prosecutors sought to convince jurors that the 34-year-old father who once worked as an Army staff sergeant at the Pentagon, should be put to death for his crime.

Hamilton's trial began on Sept. 11, and he was convicted just two weeks later on 17 charges stemming from the events of February 27, 2016.

In addition to causing the deaths of Crystal Hamilton and 28-year-old officer Ashley Guindon, Hamilton was convicted for the attempted murder of two other officers, David McKeown and Jesse Hempen.

The penalty phase of the trial began Oct. 1, and the jurors have a choice of recommending Hamilton spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

If Hamilton is ultimately sentenced to death, he would become the fourth person on Virginia’s death row.

On Tuesday, nearly two years after Hamilton used an AK-47 to kill Guindon, a newly minted Prince William County Police officer, the slain woman's mother took the stand and told Hamilton that he’d taken her life, as well.

"I don’t know where I belong,” said Sharon Guindon. “I’ve been handed a death sentence.”

The case grew out of the sort of call police officers often confront – a domestic dispute.  Hamilton argued with and shot Crystal Hamilton, who wanted to go to an adult nightclub.   Officers answered the call to Hamilton’s residence in Woodbridge, Virginia, a suburb of the Washington D.C.  Hamilton met them at the front door and shot all three.

Sharon Guindon’s testimony, along with that of Cherry Murphy, Crystal Hamilton's mother, was delivered before a courtroom audience that included three rows of uniformed Prince William County police officers.

Both women described themselves with words such as “broken,” and “shattered.”

Guindon, who lives in New Hampshire, recalled the day her daughter died.

“I was home relaxing after working outside,” she said.

The phone rang and she saw that it was a Virginia number. She thought it was her daughter calling, but heard a man’s voice instead.

“I knew it was bad,” Guindon remembered.

She was told her daughter was shot in the shoulder and would live. Police officers from her hometown arrived and asked if she had support system – a friend who could be with her.

Not long after, there was another call, this one from a doctor who had operated on Ashley. “I knew it was going to be the worst nightmare,” she remembered. “She told me Ashley died. She [the doctor] tried everything she could.”

Guindon wept during the testimony, as did several of the officers and jurors. “Where do I go from here?” she asked. “She was my only daughter.”

Her daughter wanted children, she added, and she will never know those grandchildren. Speaking directly to Hamilton, she said, “You not only killed my daughter, you killed me, too. My life will never be the same.”

Ashley Guindon was a U.S. Marine reservist and a graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. As a teen, she was interested in modeling and acting, her mother remembered.

Her father, David Guindon, a New Hampshire Air National guardsman, committed suicide the day after returning from Iraq in 2004.

Crystal Hamilton, who is survived by a son, was a recovery care coordinator for wounded Marines.

Categories / Criminal, Government, Regional, Trials

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