An ex-United States Army Staff Sergeant reacted to a ‘bad day’ in the worst possible way imaginable.
In 2016, Ronald Hamilton, in the midst of a domestic dispute with his wife, shot and killed a police officer, his wife, and shot and wounded two other police officers. Two years later, he’s finally been convicted of the crime, and prosecutors promised that they would push for the death penalty.
On February 27, 2016, officers were called to the home of Ronald Hamilton, a 32-year-old Staff Sergeant (E-6) who worked at the Pentagon, and who was the son of a police officer.
Police were called concerning a domestic dispute between he and his wife, 29-year-old Crystal Hamilton.
The shooting, which occurred in Woodbridge, Virginia, claimed the lives of Mrs. Hamilton, as well as Officer Ashley Guindon, both of whom were cut down by Mr. Hamilton’s Ak-47-patterned rifle.
Perhaps most tragically of all, Guindon was working her very first shift as a police officer after having been sworn in.
The other officers he injured, David McKeown and Jesse Hempen, survived the assault.
Hamilton, now 34 years of age after spending more than two years in jail without bail for the violent crimes he was accused of, was found guilty on all charges, both for the shooting of his wife and the officer and for injuring the other two.
The Staff Sergeant had joined the Army at the age of 18, and was in one of the most influential posts that the United States military had to offer.
His father was a former law enforcement officer, who retired after a long and rewarding career in the Charleston Police Department in South Carolina, as a major.
The father described his son as a ‘calm and friendly’ person, and went on to suggest that his son had a bright future ahead of him in the United States Army.
The deceased, Guindon, was also a member of the United States military. She had spent an enlistment in the United States Marine Corps, and worked at Bolling Air Force Base, where she dealt with sending home the remains of Marines who had died in the line of their duties.
Her father, David Guindon, had also served his country, and had deployed to Iraq. He took his own life within 24 hours of returning from Iraq.
Lawyers for SSG Ronald Hamilton did not attempt to argue against the facts of the case, or the idea that he had, indeed, been responsible for the shooting and the havoc it wrought, but instead had attempted to argue that he lacked the premeditation required for capital murder in the state of Virginia.
The jury disagreed, and found him guilty of capital murder in the deaths of his wife and Officer Guindon.
In Virginia, capital murder is punished with either the death penalty, or with a lifetime imprisonment.
According to local news accounts, the case will resume on Monday, October first. On that day, the Jury will begin to hear evidence from the prosecution, which has held true to their claim that they would seek the death penalty in the case.
The downside of a conviction for capital murder, and a death sentence, is that it would launch Ronald Hamilton into more than a decade of appeals while he would be held on Death Row.
Taxpayers could spend tens of thousands of dollars, each year, waiting for him to be executed, to say nothing of the considerable legal fees that they would incur during that appeals process.
However, the other possible outcome is that he is provided a life sentence, in which case he could conceivably spend the next 40 years, or more, of his life, in a prison in Virginia, being fed, watered, housed, and cared for by citizens of the state.
For Hamilton, for his father, for the Prince William Police Department that lost a fledgling officer on her first day, and for the community, Monday will be an important day. It will determine how this horrific crime is punished, and the rule of law in Virginia.