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Man faces 2 possible charges: Jury to decide manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter

A case against a man accused of allegedly causing the death of his housemate has been indicted on two charges.

Kenneth J. Radimaker, 43, was indicted by the Lawrence County Grand Jury on charges of both murder and involuntary manslaughter.

Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson explained that his office asked the grand jury for both charges so the jury can pick which charge they feel is appropriate is they return a guilty verdict.

“Or we will have a choice in which one we try,” he said. “We could try the facts on both, but ultimately, it is a jury question as to whether it is murder or involuntary manslaughter.”

Anderson said the difference between the two is that murder “is the purposeful killing of another. Involuntary manslaughter is killing someone while committing a misdemeanor or felony offense.”

In this case, the involuntary manslaughter would be that Radimaker’s housemate, James A. Baker Jr., died as a result of being struck by Radimaker.

“If the jury finds that (Baker) died as a result of felonious assault, that is involuntary manslaughter. If they find that he purposely killed him, that is murder,” Anderson said. “What we do know is that they were in an altercation and Baker was struck several times with the defendant’s fist.”

A preliminary autopsy report showed Baker died after being struck below the chin causing an artery to rupture and causing his brain to bleed.

Murder carries a penalty of life without the possibility of parole for 15 years. Involuntary manslaughter carries a range of penalties, from a minimum of three years in prison to a maximum of 16 years in prison.

No trial date has been set yet. Radimaker will be arraigned Tuesday in the Common Pleas Court of Judge Christen Finley.

The case against Radimaker stems from a May 29 incident on Township Road 287 in Chesapeake. At 1:08 a.m., the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office got a call about domestic violence and when deputies arrived on the scene, they found 52-year-old James A. Baker Jr. unconscious in a bedroom and called for medical assistance but paramedics were unable to revive him.

A witness told deputies that Baker and Radimaker had been living together for the past several months and that the two had an argument that escalated into a physical fight with Radimaker assaulting Baker with his hands.

Radimaker fled the scene before deputies arrived. After an extensive search, he was found and arrested by deputies in a wooded area behind the residence around 3 a.m.

Sheriff Jeff Lawless has said that the cause of the fight between the two men hadn’t been determined yet.

Lawless explained the two men were sharing a house and bills and that a call about domestic violence means it is a situation between any people sharing a household.

“It just has to be household members, it doesn’t have to be that they are related or romantically involved,” Lawless said. “The way the domestic violence law reads it can be anyone you live with.”