Grand jury: Mount Healthy group home worker killed resident

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A Hamilton County grand jury has indicted a Mount Healthy group home employee on murder and other charges for the November death of a resident.

Janice Cooper, 55, is also charged with one count each of felonious assault and voluntary manslaughter. She faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted of all charges.

Prosecutors say Cooper was the only employee working in the home from approximately 11 p.m. Nov. 17 until resident James Zito's injuries were reported to 911 at approximately 6 a.m. Nov. 18.

Zito, 52, was born with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. He functioned at the level of a 2 1/2-year-old.

"Mr. Zito functioned at the level of a young child," Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said. "Killing him is like killing a child. As with all of these cases, my office will work hard to seek justice for the victim's family and our community."

Cooper called 911 at approximately 6 a.m. Nov. 18 reporting that a patient was having difficulty breathing, that his eyelids were swollen and purple and that he was in and out of consciousness. Zito was taken to Mercy West Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Hamilton County coroner's office ruled Zito's death a homicide as the result of blunt force trauma.

Zito lived at the home -- located at 7800 Affinity Place -- for three years.

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