Dad gets 7 years for son's scalding death

Robert Ritchie sentenced for Austin Cooper's death

LEBANON, Ohio -- A judge sentenced a Franklin man to seven years in prison Tuesday for his son's scalding death.

Robert Ritchie, 32, asked for mercy, telling the judge he wanted to become a pastor so he could share his faith. He faced a possible sentence of up to 11 years.

Sheri Gredig, the victim's maternal grandmother, told Ritchie: "You're destined for hell and the devil himself."

Defense attorney Frank Schiavone IV called Ritchie a "gentle giant" living with despair and hopelessness.

"This isn’t a man the court would typically see," he said.

After three trials, Ritchie was convicted Aug. 25 of child endangering and involuntary manslaughter in the death of 4-year-old Austin Cooper.

 

Police say Ritchie didn't check on his young son after the boy's stepmother, Anna Ritchie, severely burned him in a bathtub. Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said Anna Ritchie placed Cooper's legs in scalding water -- about 134 degrees -- for 20 to 25 minutes.

She pleaded guilty to murder, and a judge sentenced her to between 18 years and life in prison.

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