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Pekin man charged with murdering his 9-week-old daughter will remain in custody until trial

Tazewell County Courthouse, Pekin
Joe Deacon
Tazewell County Courthouse, Pekin

A Pekin man charged with causing the death of his 9-week-old daughter will remain in the Tazewell County Jail until his trial, barring a successful appeal of the detention ruling.

Judge Chris Doscotch on Tuesday denied the defense’s request to release Hunter Waters, 20, to home confinement with 24/7 supervision from four of his relatives.

Before the hearing, Tazewell County Public Defender Luke Taylor made some concessions to prosecutors.

Taylor acknowledged "the presumption is great" that Waters committed the offenses he’s charged with, and that Waters potentially poses a “real and present threat” to the community or individuals. But, Taylor said, home confinement and 24/7 supervision should mitigate the concerns outlined in the state’s petition to detain.

Waters is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery to a child. His daughter, identified by the Peoria County coroner as 2-month-old Addison Waters, died while being treated for “numerous serious injuries” at a local hospital.

Waters was arrested by the Pekin Police Department shortly after, on Nov. 28.

Waters appeared in court in person Tuesday. He wore a striped jumpsuit from the Tazewell County Jail and entered the courtroom handcuffed. He spoke very little during the hearing, answering questions from the judge and his attorney only in short “yes” or “no” statements.

Family members of Waters’ and the child’s mother were present in court, sitting on opposite sides of the courtroom.

Over the course of the 90-minute detention hearing, Taylor questioned Waters and his relatives to see if they understood the conditions of pretrial release under home confinement.

Tazewell County Assistant State’s Attorney Mara Mishler presented evidence in support of their detention petition. This included two orders of protection issued previously against Waters, an incident where Waters allegedly flashed the handle of an airsoft gun as if it were a handgun at a Pekin park, and photos from an autopsy performed by a pediatric forensic pathologist documenting Addison Waters’ injuries.

The prosecutors also told the court Waters had met the child’s mother, an 18-year-old with “diminished mental capacity,” through the Pekin Best Buddies program. They allege Waters was meant to have a mentor/mentee relationship with the child’s mother.

[Editor's Note: Since publication, a representative of Best Buddies International told WCBU that Waters and the child's mother were not in the Best Buddies Pekin chapter and had never participated in Best Buddies programs in the state. WCBU has reached out to the Tazewell County State's Attorney's Office for clarification.]

The evidence also includes an affidavit of probable cause, outlining statements Waters allegedly made to a Pekin Police detective where he admitted to holding Addison “tightly around the rib cage and [striking] her head against his bedroom door.”

Furthermore, prosecutors questioned the efficacy of Waters' family members as supervisors. They argued some of those relatives proposed as custodians were in the house when the offense occurred.

Prosecutors also claimed Waters' potential extended sentence of up to 100 years constituted a flight risk.

Although he ultimately saw no flight risk, Doscotch ruled against granting Waters pretrial release and home confinement.

“These are severe, acute, very traumatic, violent injuries,” Doscotch said. “When I look at the weight of the evidence in this case, the presumption is great.”

Doscotch also said the mentor/mentee relationship and the alleged presence of some of the family members in the home during the offense were concerning.

“It would make no sense, at least to this court, to put the same people with the Herculean task of 24-hour observation on him,” he said.

Waters will be detained until his trial, pending an appeal. His next preliminary hearing is set for Thursday, Dec. 21.

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.