The father of a 4-year-old Ohio boy who died after his stepmother put him in a scalding bath was sentenced to seven years in prison after vowing to the judge that he would become a pastor if shown mercy.
Robert Ritchie was convicted in his third trial in August in the death of little Austin Cooper after two mistrials. He was facing up to 11 years in prison.
Lawyer Frank Schiavone characterized Ritchie as a victim of his wife and “an abused man.” Anna Ritchie pleaded guilty last year and is serving 18 years to life in prison.
During Tuesday’s sentencing, the 32-year-old Ritchie told the judge that he wanted to became a pastor so he could pass on his faith.
“I want to do good in this world for my son,” he said in court, according to the Journal-News. “Something good has to come from this.”
Schiavone called Ritchie a “gentle giant” who has been full of “despair and hopelessness” since his son died.
“He never thought his wife would murder his child and hide that fact … he knows he can’t bring his son back, your honor,” Schiavone said, according to the Journal-News.
However, Austin’s maternal grandmother Sheri Gredig told Ritchie he was “destined for hell and the devil himself.”
“We will never watch him grow up,” she said in court, according to the Journal-News. “He (Ritchie) took that away from all of us and for that he should receive the maximum sentence possible.”
Prosecutors argued in the Warren County courtroom that Robert Ritchie failed to get medical treatment that could have saved Austin’s life in March 2016.
Anna Ritchie resented being Austin’s stepmother and put him in the 130-degree water as a form of punishment, according to prosecutors. Robert Ritchie did not check on his son for 15 hours, Fox 19 reported.
Source: NY Daily News
Featured Image: Patch
Inset Image: NICK GRAHAM/AP