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Family of 11-Year-Old In Court For Murder Suspect's Hearing

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Family of Jacelyn O'Connor were in Town of Norwich court Tuesday for the felony hearing of James Brower, one of two men charged with the murder and rape of the 11-year-old girl from Morris. The judge determined Brower's case will go in front of a grand jury.

"I just want her at peace. I'm glad that everybody is here for her," says Mandy Martinez, Jacelyn O'Connor's biological mother. 

The second suspect, Tobias Rundstrom-Woodinging, waived his right to a felony hearing. Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride says Rundstrom-Wood and Brower are a couple

Prosecutors said Monday that Jacelyn O'Connor was murdered on July 30 2017 in Brower's home on County Route 33. They say she had been there on an "extended stay." O'Connor is the half-sister to Brower's two half-sons.

In court today, details of the case were laid out from four witnesses called by the prosecution. All four work for the New York State Police. In the 911 call made the morning of July 30th by Brower, the suspect said it was his son who found the 11-year-old girl dead in bed. Brower told the dispatcher that he didn't believe his son, so he did not go to check on Jacelyn. When he finally did go to wake her, she was cold and not breathing.

Brower told police that Rundstrom-Wooding was asleep on the couch and told him Jacelyn woke up around 1am because she was cold. Brower said the girl then went back to bed in her brother's room.

Brower told police no one was in the room with Jacelyn that night. An autopsy report showed that O'Connor had been smothered and sexually assaulted. Brower shifted the blame to his sons, telling police that it could have been them who committed the crime, but it could not have been Rundstrom-Wooding. DNA evidence found it was Rundstrom-Wooding's sperm. 

Brower's brother says he does not believe his brother committed the crime, but he just wants justice for the little girl.

"We want justice for the person that actually did it. Whether that be my brother, whether it be somebody else," says Anthony Wilchynski, Brower's brother.

The family says they are struggling to grasp what happened and they are not jumping to any conclusions, just letting the investigators do the work to find out who is responsible. And that means not abandoning James Brower.

"He's our family, too. We still love him," says Rebecca Hamm, O'Connor's custodial mother.

The Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride says he expects both Brower and Rundstrom-Wooding to sit trial in spring 2018.