Deputies: Bond denied for suspect after death of one-year-old re-opened as homicide

Matthew Jason Chappell. (Source: Oconee Co. Detention Center).

The coroner announced the June death of a 22-month-old is now being investigated as a homicide. Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said the death of Gwynne Ann-Marie Hess was originally classified as an accident. Deputies said her mother's boyfriend was arrested on homicide charges.

According to the coroner, Hess was admitted to Greenville Memorial Hospital after going into cardiac arrest. The coroner said it was originally determined that Hess choked on a gummy snack after crying, causing an airway obstruction.

Hess died on June 11 in the pediatric intensive care unit at Greenville Memorial Hospital.

Her death was classified as an accident based on the history given by the family and medical evaluation, the coroner said.

According to the coroner, the Oconee County Sheriff's office contacted his office with new information after one of Hess' siblings was hospitalized.

Deputies said Matthew Jason Chappell, 25, was arrested in connection with the death.

Deputies said they responded to Oconee Memorial Hospital on Tuesday to a possible child abuse case involving a three-year-old with skull fractures.

According to deputies, Chappell said he found blood on the child and was unable to get in contact with the child's mother.

After an investigation, it was determined that Chappell injured the child after pushing her into an object, deputies said. The injury resulted in skull fractures and loss of consciousness, deputies said.

Deputies said the investigation revealed evidence that determined the death of Gwynne Ann-Marie Hess was a homicide.

According to deputies, the investigation determined Hess's actual cause of death was being dropped on the floor with food in her mouth.

Chappell was denied bond on both charges of homicide by child abuse and child abuse inflicting great bodily injury. He will appear before a Circuit Court Judge at a later time.

Both the coroner's office and the sheriff's office said the investigation is ongoing in both cases.

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