They stared down Deandre Chaney Jr. from their seats Friday afternoon as he faced a judge from his courtroom cell – his former girlfriend, a protective plastic collar around her neck, now mourning the death of her eldest child; her mother and other family members calling out “coward” and “he killed my grandson” through their tears.
Their glares soon turned to sobs. Prosecutors on Friday added a new charge at Deandre Chaney Jr.’s arraignment on murder and attempted murder charges in the Sept. 1 hammer attack at his ex-girlfriend’s Meadowview home, alleging Chaney also sexually violated one of the children.
The charge, performing lewd acts with a minor younger than14, was read by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto and added yet another disturbing dimension to the case – and another page for Chaney in a brief life already marked for years by violence.
Nearly a year ago, in October 2016, he pleaded no contest to a charge of failing to register as a sex offender. In 2014, he pleaded no contest to a charge of felony battery with serious bodily injury. In 2011, he pleaded no contest to a charge of assault with a deadly weapon, Sacramento Superior Court records show.
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The record stretches for years before that, court documents show: charges of second-degree robbery in 2007; rape and forced oral copulation in 2007; forced oral copulation in 2008; lewd acts with a dependant adult as a caretaker in 2009, many of the charges followed by stints in the California Youth Authority.
Sacramento County prosecutors in their initial four-page complaint alleged Chaney, a violent two-strike felon and sex offender at age 23, bludgeoned his former girlfriend then doused her and her home with lighter fluid before setting upon her two children – a girl, 7, and an 8-year-old son, with the hammer. The son died of his injuries at a local hospital six days later.
The new complaint also alleges Chaney used a knife against a girl who was molested.
Paperwork in Chaney’s court file expand on the violent incident.
Chaney’s ex-girlfriend told Sacramento detectives that Chaney called her about 4 a.m. Sept. 1 for a ride from an apartment complex in Meadowview, according to a Sacramento police request for a warrant to arrest Chaney. She said she asked Chaney to watch her children when she left about 5:30 a.m., to drop her brother at his work.
She returned about 6:10, the warrant request read, when she heard one of her children crying. She told investigators that she was struck at least three times with the hammer from behind after she walked in to check on her child and continued to take blows as she ran for her bedroom.
She told detectives she was tied up and soaked with lighter fluid and said Chaney took her car keys, cell phone and some cash, climbed into her car and drove off.
Neighbors told police dispatchers that “a large amount of blood” was seen inside the home.
Chaney fled, cutting off his parolee ankle monitor and hopping on an Amtrak train bound for Salt Lake City, according to the detectives’ arrest warrant request.
He got as far as Winnemucca, Nev., where authorities tracked him down on a call from Sacramento police. Winnemucca officers found Chaney wrapped in a tarp inside a backyard shed the morning of Sept. 2 and took him into custody on an outstanding warrant, officials said, awaiting extradition back to Sacramento.
As communities from Meadowview to West Sacramento reel from the cluster of domestic violence-related child deaths in a month only half over, Chaney’s former girlfriend sobbed in the arms of family members before she was led gingerly to an awaiting car for the drive away from the downtown courtroom.