After three trials, father found guilty in 4-year-old's 'scalding death'

Posted at 12:31 PM, Aug 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-25 19:12:56-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- After three trials, a Warren County jury found the man charged in the death of his 4-year-old son guilty on both counts Friday.

Robert Ritchie, 32, was found guilty of child endangering and involuntary manslaughter in the death of his son, Austin Cooper. Police say Ritchie didn't check on his young son after the boy was severely burned by his stepmother, Anna Ritchie. She pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to between 18 years and life in prison.

The coroner testified Cooper would have survived the injuries he sustained when Anna Ritchie put his legs in scalding hot water had he been taken to the hospital that night.

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.

Ritchie's attorney asked for another mistrial when a clerical error "left him floundering" when he questioned a witness on the stand Tuesday. Judge Robert Peeler said one witness wasn't enough to warrant a mistrial, but that the mix-up could be recorded and used as evidence in a future appeal.