Man sentenced to 7 years in son’s scalding death

Robert Ritchie was arrested Monday, May 23 in connection with the death of his son, Austin Cooper in April. (Photo: Warren County Jail)

LEBANON, Ohio (AP/WLWT) —The father of a 4-year-old Ohio boy who died after his stepmother put him in a scalding bath was sentenced to seven years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and child endangering.

Robert Ritchie was sentenced Tuesday in Warren County court.

Prosecutors say the Franklin man failed to get medical treatment that could have saved Austin Cooper’s life in March 2016. Ritchie was convicted at his third trial after two mistrials.

Ritchie’s attorney, Frank Schiavone III, argued that Ritchie’s wife covered up her crime. Schiavone characterized Ritchie as another victim, calling him “an abused man.”
Ritchie’s wife pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.

Ritchie was at work at the time, but prosecutors say text messages prove he knew his wife injured Austin and that he failed to check on his son when he got home.

When he did, 15 hours later, it was too late.

Defense attorney Frank Schiavone argued Ritchie didn’t know the extent of Austin’s injuries and trusted his wife that they were just minor.

“I believe so much what I told the judge: This man is a kind and gentle man who is not a violent person in any way,” Schiavone said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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