Murder trial slated to begin

GREENFIELD — There is a photograph of Zoey Wagoner hanging in the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office. In the picture, the little girl is smiling, her bright blue eyes open wide.

For months, the photo has served as a reminder of a job waiting to be done, Prosecutor Brent Eaton said. Ever since the 1-year-old was found dead inside her Greenfield home, Eaton and his attorneys have worked with local police officers to investigate the homicide, discover what happened to the girl and bring her justice.

Monday, the murder trial against the girl’s father, 31-year-old Matthew Wagoner, is set to begin in Hancock County Superior Court 1.

Investigators said Wagoner was the last person to see his young daughter alive. The toddler died after suffering multiple blunt-force trauma injuries, including lacerations to her liver, consistent with being stomped on, according to court documents.

Eaton said prosecutors have assembled a list of more than 20 witnesses, including Zoey’s grade-school aged half-siblings, to testify at the trial against her father.

Jessica Wagoner, Zoey’s mother, who also is charged with murder, has been put on the witness list, but Eaton is uncertain whether the woman will testify during the trial. Jessica and Matthew Wagoner were married at the time of their arrest, but Jessica Wagoner filed for divorce within days of charges being filed against her and her husband.

Matthew Wagoner had been alone with Zoey in the hours before a babysitter called 911 in late May, saying the child was blue and unresponsive, court documents state.

Text messages between the Wagoners indicate they knew their daughter was injured, but they failed to seek medical attention as her condition declined, citing fears the Indiana Department of Child Services would be called, court documents state.

Investigators believe Zoey might have already been dead when Matthew Wagoner pushed her in a stroller on his way to get a soda at a Greenfield gas station — an act he told police Jessica concocted as a cover-up story, court documents state.

His path took him past Hancock Regional Hospital, but he walked by without stopping to seek medical help even though he told police he knew something was wrong with his daughter, court documents state.

After charges were filed, Wagoner’s attorney, Jeff McClarnon of Greenfield, asked Judge Terry Snow to order a psychological evaluation for his client to determine if Wagoner was competent to stand trial. The results of those medical records were filed with the court in August but not released to the public, and the trial remained on schedule.

McClarnon did not return calls from the Daily Reporter for comment.

Eaton expects the trial will last at least a week and a half. Seventy Hancock County residents have been summoned to the courthouse, and proceedings should begin at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

The trial is open to the public.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or