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West Virginia Man Who Told Cops ‘I Just Lost It’ Convicted of Beating Autistic 7-Year-Old Boy to Death with a Claw Hammer

Rashad Akeem Thompson 

Rashad Akeem Thompson

A 36-year-old West Virginia man may spend the rest of his life behind bars for brutally killing his girlfriend’s non-verbal autistic 7-year-old son last year, beating the little boy to death with a claw hammer. A Raleigh County jury on Thursday convicted Rashad Akeem Thompson on one count of first-degree murder in the horrific slaying of young Tre-shaun Brown, authorities confirmed.

In addition to the murder charge, Thompson was convicted of stabbing Tre-shaun’s mother Felicia Brown. The jury found him guilty on one count each of attempted first-degree murder, malicious wounding, and child abuse resulting in death, plus two counts of domestic battery.

As previously reported by Law&Crime, a neighbor told investigators awoke in the early morning hours of March 18, 2021 to Felicia banging on her door. Felicia had sustained several stab wounds and asked the neighbor for help getting Tre-shaun and her 2-year-old daughter from her apartment. The neighbor managed to get into the house and save the toddler, but fled upon seeing Thompson emerge from the kitchen. She said she returned to the apartment to get the older boy, but found Thompson repeatedly striking a part of the couch inside the living room of the residence using an object she could not identify but was later identified as a hammer.

The neighbor then returned a third time and saw that the 7-year-old boy was dead on the part of the couch that Thompson was striking, police said.

When first responders arrived on the scene they reportedly said that Thompson appeared to be covered in blood. Police also said that after he was in custody, Thompson told investigators, “I just lost it.”

Prosecutors never uncovered a clear motive for the horrific crime, but argued that Thompson stabbed Felicia multiple times and only turned his ire onto Tre-shaun after the boy’s mother was able to get out of the house.

“And once she ran and was able to finally get to the neighbor’s house, I think he abandoned that for fear of being discovered, he ran back to the apartment and the one way he knew to take his anger out on her at this point was to attack her son,” Raleigh County Prosecutor Ben Hatfield reportedly told West Virginia MetroNews. “That’s conjecture. It’s the only explanation.”

Thompson’s defense team reportedly attempted to pin the boy’s death on his mother, but investigators said there was no evidence she was involved in the slaying.

While a conviction of first-degree murder typically carries a sentence of life in prison, the jury reportedly granted mercy to Thompson for the capital offense, meaning he may be up for parole on that charge in 15 years, MetroNews reported. That decision was reached after several of Thompson’s family members and friends reportedly addressed the court on his behalf.

Betty Salvatore, who was Thompson’s principal at Cranberry-Elementary School reportedly told the court that she took a day of from work to ask the court for mercy on his behalf, according to a report from Lewisburg CBS affiliate WVNS-TV.

“I know that something did happen. It did,” she reportedly said. “But I don’t know what led up to it. I don’t know what caused it. But I can tell you, that’s not the man I know. It’s just not the man I know.”

Thompson’s cousin and older brother also testified on his behalf, reportedly telling the court that he would have a very supportive and loving family to help him transition from prison should he ever be released.

Prosecutor Hatfield had reportedly requested that the jury not grant Thompson mercy.

“The system works the way it’s designed to work and I am left with the results,” he reportedly told MetroNews.

Thompson will be sentenced on Dec. 14. When he will be eligible for parole depends on whether the judge orders him to serve the sentences for his multiple charges consecutively or concurrently.

As WVVA reported, there was a time when the defendant considered pleading guilty.

[Image via WVVA screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.