Dad gets 7 years for son's scalding death

Robert Ritchie sentenced for Austin Cooper's death
Dad gets 7 years for son's scalding death
Posted at 11:26 AM, Oct 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-10 17:27:16-04

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

Robert Ritchie, 32, didn't check on his 4-year-old son for hours after his wife and the boy's stepmother, Anna Ritchie, severely scalded the child. 

Ritchie asked for mercy Tuesday, 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.

"I ask that you show mercy on me," he said. "If given the opportunity, I want to become a youth pastor and spread the love and faith I shared with my son."

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

Gredig also lamented the loss of her grandson.

"We will no longer get to see his smile, hear his laughter or get to watch him grow up," she said.

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.

"There can be no mistake that this father had the duty to come to the aid of his child and that he failed in that regard," Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Julie Kraft said. 


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.

Judge Robert Peeler said he never saw Robert Ritchie show any remorse. 

"The question that kept me awake at night is: why did you not check on this little boy, your son, Austin," Peeler said, "as he lay there for 14 hours while you sat in there and watched television?"