Robert Ritchie sentenced for his role in son's scalding death
WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (WKRC) - A judge sentenced a father who neglected to get his four-year old son help after his wife held the boy down in scalding water, to seven years in prison. Robert Ritchie could have been sentenced to 11 years.
Anna Ritchie put her stepson, Austin, in 124-degree water for 20 minutes as a punishment, then put him to bed. By the next morning, Austin had died.
A jury found Robert Ritchie guilty of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering for not checking on his son or getting him help.
Austin's maternal grandmother says while wife Anna Ritchie did the damage, Robert did nothing. She said Robert is destined for hell. Robert's aunt defended Robert. She told the court he is not the monster he is being portrayed.
Robert's attorney Frank Schiavone III asked for probation for his client, saying he's under a life sentence for his role in Austin's death.
Robert Ritchie’s attorneys said there was no punishment that could top what their client has already received. He could have received eleven years behind bars, with time served, he will spend a little over six years in prison.
As Robert Ritchie entered the court room, he had hugs for his defense team and a note of thanks with caricatures of his attorneys he drew while in jail.
Ritchie was convicted for his role in the 2016 scalding death of his 4-year-old son Austin Cooper.
While his wife, Anna Ritchie, admitted to holding the child down in scalding bath water, prosecutors claimed Ritchie did nothing to help his son. A point the child's maternal grandmother made to the judge prior to sentencing.
Ritchie himself asked Judge Robert Peeler to "show mercy on me" before Judge Peeler sentenced him. "I want to do good in this world for my son. Something good has to come from all this tragedy, something good has to come. I want to share my faith and my love with the youth and eventually become a full-on pastor, if you deem fit to give me mercy."
Judge Robert Peeler concurred that Ritchie did not cause his son's injuries, but wondered why he did nothing to help his child.
Ritchie's defense team took issue with the fairness in prosecuting some child death cases and not others.
Frank Schiavone IV pointed to the recent hot car death of a child where no charges were filed while his client is going to prison.
Prosecutor David Fornshell said that the difference was one parent had knowledge while the other did not.
Once Ritchie is released from prison he will be on five-years probation.
Anna Ritchie is already in prison. She is serving 18 years to life for causing the injuries that killed the child.