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Defense plans to seek third mistrial for father accused in connection to son's scalding death

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Posted at 6:49 PM, Aug 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-21 18:49:22-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- Defense attorney Frank Schiavone III said Monday he planned to seek a third mistrial for Robert Ritchie, a Franklin man charged with child endangering and involuntary manslaughter in connection to his 4-year-old son’s scalding death.

Ritchie’s wife, Anna Ritchie, was convicted of murder in September 2016 for holding her stepson, Austin Cooper, in a boiling hot bathtub until his skin began to peel. 

According to prosecutors, Anna Ritchie did not treat Cooper’s wounds but merely dressed him in footie pajamas so he would not bleed on the furniture. The boy died overnight of hemorrhagic shock.

Prosecutors argued that Robert Ritchie’s failure to check on his son or take him to the hospital made him indirectly responsible for Cooper's death, but jurors in Ritchie’s first trial could not reach a verdict after four days of deliberation.

Ritchie became ill and was rushed to the hospital during the first day of his second trial, forcing another declaration of mistrial.

Why a third? Schiavone said he had been given the wrong transcript of a witness’s testimony Monday, leaving him floundering when he stepped up to question that witnesses. 

He added that he believed the court reporter had known about the mix-up ahead of time and failed to inform him.

Schiavone said he planned to request the new declaration of mistrial Tuesday morning.