“This was a heinous crime that was especially shocking because of the defendant’s age and relationship to the victim,” District Attorney Warren Montgomery said. “I am proud that my Assistant District Attorneys obtained justice on behalf of the victim’s family members. I hope they are now able to close this painful chapter of their lives.”
Zaunbrecher also sentenced Hamilton to 20 years in prison for each of two counts of solicitation for murder for planning to have the victim’s brother and sister-in-law killed. Hamilton was angry at the couple at the time because they had requested a revocation of his pre-trial bond after he was found in possession of a firearm in another parish. Zaunbrecher ordered one of the 20-year sentences to be served consecutive to the murder sentence; the other 20-year-sentence is to be served at the same time that Hamilton is serving the murder sentence.
Zaunbrecher acknowledged receiving several letters, including two from the murder solicitation victims, but they did not speak in court. Hamilton also chose not to speak.
Hamilton was found guilty in March of shooting his stepfather, James “Kenny” Hamilton, multiple 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. Assistant District Attorneys Elizabeth Authement and Angad Ghai, who prosecuted the case, 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 stole both of his father’s vehicles and debit card and spent the next two days, drinking and partying with friends at a hunting camp. 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.
James Hamilton’s body was discovered three days later, when he failed to show up for work, and family members and friends went to check on him. The murder weapon was found at the hunting camp under a sweatshirt that Daniel Hamilton had been wearing that weekend. After his bond was revoked and he was sent back to prison to await his trial, Daniel Hamilton talked to another inmate and to his girlfriend about having the aunt and uncle who had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 he didn’t look his father in the face when he shot him.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.