Franklin dad Robert Ritchie's third trial goes on despite clerical mix-up

Franklin dad Robert Ritchie's third trial goes on despite clerical mix-up
Posted at 1:23 PM, Aug 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-22 13:46:05-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- Warren County Judge Robert Peeler ruled Robert Ritchie’s third trial would continue despite issues with testimony after a clerical mix-up, the Journal-News reports.

Ritchie, 32, is charged with child endangering and involuntary manslaughter for allegedly not checking on Austin Cooper after the child was severely burned by his stepmother, Anna Ritchie. She pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to between 18 years and life in prison.

A mistrial was declared last December when the jury was hung and again in March when Robert Ritchie became ill in court as autopsy photos of 4-year-old Austin Cooper were shown.

On Monday, defense attorney Frank Schiavone III was vigorously cross examining Franklin Police Lt. Gerald Massey about the visibility of the child’s burn injuries and differences in his testimony that day and what he testified to during Ritchie’s second trial.

The court asked for a break and during that break, it was discovered the court reporter had mislabeled the transcript, putting Massey’s name on it, when it was actually the testimony of another witness.

Schiavone III and Frank Schiavone IV asked for a mistrial.

Prosecutors declined to give an opinion until they had a chance to confer with others in the office.

Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Steven Knippen said Tuesday the prosecution opposed the mistrial motion.

Warren County Judge Robert Peeler said a mistrial is not warranted based on one witness.

After argument by Schiavone III, who asked that the court reporter testify about the mistake in a hearing, attorneys from both sides met in judge’s chambers for about an hour.

When they returned to the courtroom, both sides agreed to a stipulation about the mistake that will be preserved for appeal evidence.

Peeler officially overruled the motion for a mistrial, and Ritchie’s trial is now moving forward.


The Journal-News is a media partner of WCPO.