After a series of lengthy court proceedings in Ripley County, a 15-year-old accused of double murder in the deaths of two children, ages 2 and 11 months, will stand trial as an adult.

Defendant Nickalas Kedrowitz, formerly of Osgood, was charged with two counts of murder, after he admitted to smothering Desiree McCartney, 23 months, in May 2017, and Nathaniel Ritz, 11 months, in July 2017. Both children lived in the same house with Kedrowitz.

An affidavit, submitted by Indiana State Police detectives, said Kedrowitz committed both murders by placing a towel or blanket over the noses and mouths of the children to stop their breathing. Autopsies performed by the Hamilton County, Ohio, coroner ruled both deaths as homicide.

Ripley County Prosecutor Richard Hertel said that after being charged as a juvenile, Kedrowitz’s attorneys argued he was incompetent to stand trial, but a judge ruled Kedrowitz competent after several days of testimony from multiple psychologists. The judge ruled that Kedrowitz clearly understood the proceedings and was assisting in his defense, based on his statements and behavior during the evaluations, Hertel said.

Indiana law permits juvenile defendants as young as 12 to be tried as adults in murder cases, Hertel said, noting Kedrowitz was 13 at the time of the allegations.

Hertel said his office and Indiana State Police have been investigating this case since the first death in May 2017. The charges against Kedrowitz were based on what was learned in that investigation and information obtained from autopsy reports on both victims.

Kedrowitz was taken into custody on Aug. 28, 2018, under a court order out of Ripley County. He remains in custody at the juvenile facility in Dearborn County.

At the time of Desiree’s death, according to the probable cause affidavit with the murder charges, Christina McCartney, the child’s mother, told law enforcement that she lived with her fiance, Stephen Ritz, and four children — Desiree, Nathaniel and Nickalas as well as another child named Abigail.

When the May 1, 2017, call to 911 was placed for Desiree, she was taken to Margaret Mary Community Hospital in Batesville and then to Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati. She was pronounced dead on May 6. An autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Karen Looman concluded in an initial report that the cause and manner of death was undetermined. Looman noted that her findings revealed “a prolonged period of anoxia (absence of oxygen) to the brain.”

On July 20, 2017, Ripley County 911 received a call from the same address in Osgood, the affidavit said, for an “unresponsive child (11-month-old Nathaniel Ritz).” Nathaniel was taken to Mary Margaret Community Hospital is Batesville where he was pronounced dead an hour later.