FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2019
COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery announces that a St. Tammany Parish jury found Daniel T. Hamilton, 19, guilty Friday (March 29) of second degree murder for shooting his stepfather to death in their Covington home in 2016.
The jury also found Hamilton guilty of two counts of solicitation for murder for planning to have the victim’s brother and sister-in-law killed because they requested that his bond be revoked so that he could await his trial in prison. Daniel Hamilton faces mandatory life in prison when he is sentenced by District Judge Alan Zaunbrecher on May 20.
The jury deliberated about 1½ hours before finding Hamilton guilty of killing James “Kenny” Hamilton, who considered the defendant his son, and of planning to kill his aunt and uncle. “You’re dealing with a cold-blooded killer,” Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai told the jury in his closing statement. “That’s not what I’m saying. That’s what the evidence shows.”
Ghai and Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Authement told jurors that Daniel Hamilton shot his father six times in the back of the head with a .22-caliber gun on Friday, March 4, 2016, as the elder Hamilton sat in a chair in the family room and finished his evening meal. Prosecutors presented text messages showing that the father had refused his son’s request the preceding week to borrow his truck.
After killing his father, Daniel Hamilton fled in his father’s truck to a pizza parlor in Abita Springs, where he joined friends about 8:30 p.m. He also tried to use his father’s debit card at a Wal-Mart on Highway 190, but the purchase was declined because the teenager did not have a PIN. Daniel Hamilton then spent the next two days, drinking and partying with friends at a hunting camp. He tried to sell the murder weapon to his friends and allowed them to shoot it.
At one point, Daniel Hamilton even returned to his father’s house with his friends, refused to let them inside, and passed his father’s dead body to retrieve a Play Station game system, which he and his friends took to various Game Stop stores to sell. “He walked in, casually, comfortably, with his friends outside,” Ghai told the jury. “He walked by his murdered father, not a change in his demeanor, and grabbed a Play Station to sell.”
James Hamilton’s body was discovered the following Monday, three days later, when he failed to show up for work, and family members and friends went to check on him. Medical officials pinpointed the time of his death as Friday or Saturday, based on the body’s condition.
The murder weapon was located at the hunting camp, where Daniel Hamilton had spent the weekend, and it was under a sweatshirt that he had been wearing. After his bond was revoked and he was sent back to prison to await his trial, Daniel Hamilton talked to another inmate and to his girlfriend about having the aunt and uncle who had pushed for the bond revocation killed. He also confessed to an inmate and said his only regret was that that he didn’t look his father in the face when he shot him.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated the case. The jury rejected defense attorneys’ claims during the weeklong trial that the murder investigation was botched and that officers focused from the beginning exclusively on Daniel Hamilton without checking out other potential suspects.