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Group home employee accused of murdering resident

MT. HEALTHY, Ohio (WKRC) -- A Hamilton County Grand Jury has indicted a group home employee on charges she murdered one of its residents.

Janice Cooper is charged with murder, voluntary manslaughter and felonious assault. The prosecutor's office says she's responsible for the death of 52-year-old James Zito. Zito was in the home because he was born with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy. Prosecutors say he functioned at the level of a 2 1/2 year old child. The coroner determined he died from blunt force trauma on November 18.

According to prosecutors, Cooper was the only employee working at Affinity Place business. They say she called 911 to report Zito was having trouble breathing and he was in and out consciousness. She also told dispatchers that his eyes were swollen and purple. Emergency crews took him to Mercy West Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Prosecutor Deters commented in a release, Mr. Zito functioned at the level of a young child.  Killing him is like killing a child.  As with all of these cases, my office will work hard to seek justice for the victims family and our community. If Cooper is convicted of all charges, she faces up to life in prison.

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