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Manslaughter charge filed in death of Sidney man


Theodore Medina, 23, of Sidney was charged last weekend with first degree assault, a felony after an altercation between he and 51-year-old Ernest Ward, also of Sidney. Ward died on Saturday night at Sidney Regional Medical Center. Yesterday, Cheyenne County attorney Paul Schaub filed an additional charge of manslaughter, also a felony, based on what he learned from the preliminary autopsy findings.

“My decision to file additional charges was motivated by the added information,” Schaub said.

On Nov. 2, Sidney police received a call just before 4 p.m. that an unnamed person was in need of resuscitation. When an officer arrived at the residence he allegedly witnessed Medina in an attempt to resuscitate Ward himself. Ward was laying on his back in the bedroom, according to the booking affidavit. Law enforcement took over in attempts to perform life saving measures. Emergency Response Care then transported Ward to SRMC.

Medina allegedly told those present that Ward was drunk and belligerent and there had been a shoving match between the two during which Ward had fallen down multiple times.

Jose Hernandez, who was present in the home when police arrived allegedly told law enforcement that Ward had started the altercation.

Medina voluntarily agreed to an interview at the police station regarding the events that led up to Ward’s injuries, according to the booking affidavit. Medina allegedly stated that Ward regularly drinks and gets out of hand. Medina claimed that the home belongs to Ward and that Ward babysits Medina’s and Hernandez’s children while the two men are at work. Hernandez and Medina were both formerly married to Ward’s daughters, so the kids are his grandchildren. Medina allegedly admitted that Ward had kicked him out of the house many times, but that Ward always allowed Medina to come back if he apologized.

Medina reportedly claimed that he came home from work at around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and went in the room he shares with Hernandez and fell asleep. Then Ward, who was already drunk according to Medina’s account, came in the room and began to accuse Medina of being a bad father.

Ward began poking Medina, Medina said to investigators. Medina allegedly admitted that he pushed Ward and that Ward fell down after the push because he was so intoxicated.

Medina reportedly said that he got on top of Ward and told him he would let Ward up if Ward would stop bothering him. Medina then let Ward up, but Ward continued to pester him, Medina claimed. Medina said that he then pushed Ward again and Ward fell against a plant, according to police records. Medina then allegedly said that Ward got up and punched Medina in the face.

According to police reports, Medina admitted that he picked Ward up around the chest, threw him down and punched him in the side. On recounting the events for a second time, Medina claimed that instead of picking Ward up around the chest, he picked Ward up behind the knees, which made Ward fall and hit his head, according to the affidavit.

Medina claimed that he didn’t hit Ward very hard in the side. Hernandez then stepped in and told Medina to stop, according to the police affidavit.

When police asked Medina if Ward was making any noise at this point, Medina allegedly claimed that Ward made groaning noises. Medina then said that he put his head to Ward’s chest to make sure that he was still breathing, according to police documents. Medina then reportedly claimed that he went to smoke a cigarette and to calm down, but only smoked for a short time before he decided to check on Ward. When he put his head to Ward’s chest he claimed he could tell the man’s heart was slowing. He then called 911 and began CPR, according to the affidavit.

Medina said that he and Ward fought often but had never previously gotten into a physical altercation.

Police also interviewed Hernandez about the incident. He offered the same basic information as Medina, excepting the fact that he didn’t see any of the pushing that occurred in the bathroom. Hernandez told police that he broke up the fight and that Ward was not breathing normally. The two men then discussed what to do and decided to call for help.

Medina reportedly had some superficial carpet burns from the incident and claimed that Ward had hit him in the lip, but police found no apparent abrasions or swelling in this area. Medina consented to a drug and alcohol test, which was administered to him at SRMC.

Doctors at SRMC diagnosed Ward with extensive brain injuries and bleeding around his skull and brain. Ward was clinically brain dead, but was kept alive long enough for his organs to be donated to those on the transplant list, according to police documents. He died at SRMC at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The investigation into this matter is ongoing, according to the Cheyenne County attorney’s office.


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