Dad of boy who died after scalding bath sentenced to 7 years
By LISA CORNWELL, Associated Press
CINCINNATI (AP) — The father of a 4-year-old Ohio boy who died after his stepmother put him in a scalding bath was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and child endangering.
Robert Ritchie was sentenced in a Warren County court in Lebanon, roughly 35 miles (56 kilometers) northeast of Cincinnati. Prosecutors said the Franklin man failed to get medical treatment that could have saved Austin Cooper’s life in March 2016.
One of Ritchie’s attorneys, Frank Schiavone (shuh-VOHN’-ee) III, argued that Ritchie’s wife covered up her crime. Schiavone also characterized Ritchie as another victim and “an abused man.”
Anna Ritchie is serving 18 years to life in prison after pleading guilty last year to murder and other felonies. Prosecutors accused her of holding her stepson in a scalding bath as a punishment and then trying to hide his burns and not getting him medical attention before he died.
Prosecutors had said Robert Ritchie didn’t check on his son when he got home. They said the boy was bleeding and had skin coming off his legs.
Ritchie’s other attorney, Frank Schiavone IV, said his client is remorseful. He said Tuesday that he thought probation would have been appropriate and described Ritchie as a “gentle” man who has been living with despair and hopelessness since Austin’s death.
Ritchie asked the judge for mercy prior to his sentencing, but the judge asked why he didn’t check on Austin and said he could have prevented what happened to his son.
“We definitely plan to appeal,” Frank Schiavone IV said in a telephone interview after the hearing.
He said that he believes there are a number of issues on which to base an appeal. He declined to cite specifics, other than to say that they include “the way certain evidence was presented in the third trial.”
Ritchie was convicted at his third trial after two mistrials and could have received up to 11 years in prison. His first trial ended in a mistrial when Warren County jurors couldn’t reach a verdict. His second trial was declared a mistrial after Ritchie got sick in court.