live video

Coverage of O.J. Simpson's parole hearing

Jurors in Warren County child scalding death sent home for night


The jury in the trial of Robert Ritchie, the Franklin father charged in connection with the scalding death of his 4-year-old son, deliberated for six hours Thursday in Warren County Common Pleas Court before going home for the night.

The jury got the case about 12:15 p.m. Thursday after closing arguments. Deliberations will begin again at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Robert Ritchie is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony child endangering for allegedly not seeking medical treatment for his son Austin, who was held in a bathtub of scalding water by his stepmother, Anna Ritchie.

Warren County Assistant Prosecutor Julie Kraft said Robert Ritchie made a conscious decision to do nothing to help his son when he learned of the boy’s injuries.

Because Robert Ritchie did not help, his son he lay in his bed for 15 hours and died alone, she told the jury.

Robert Ritchie was told by Anna Ritchie about the injuries that included peeling, bleeding skin, Kraft said. He checked the water temperature when he got home on March 16, but not his child, Kraft said.

If Robert Ritchie had opened the door, saw the injuries and sought medical treatment, “Austin would be here today,” Kraft said.

Defense attorney Frank Schiavone III delivered his closing arguments.

He called his client “a gentle giant” and said he did not lie to police.

“Hindsight is 20/20 and this case is a perfect example,” Schiavone III said.

If Robert Ritchie had walked into the room, he would have seen Austin sleeping, because Anna Ritchie covered him up, his attorney said.

“Anna Ritchie took Rob’s child from him, now the prosecution wants you to take his freedom from him,” Schiavone III said.

Schiavone III also said Anna Ritchie was a wild woman who went to Bible study “in a mini skirt and see-through blouse” as part of covering up Austin’s injuries when Robert Ritchie came home.

“Robert was not living with his wife, he was living with a murderer who was covering up the crime,” Schiavone III said.

The defense attorney told the jury Robert Ritchie is a “gentle giant” who loved his son and fought to get custody of Austin when the child was abused at mother’s home.

Schiavone III said by the time Robert Ritchie returned home, Austin was beyond help.

“Austin was a torture and murder victim,” Schiavone III said. “The crib was a place to put to put a dead baby.”

Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Steven Knippen addressed the jury last, reminding them Robert Ritchie was alone with his son for five hours after Anna left the apartment. Still he did not open the door and check on his son, he said.

“This is about what the defendant didn’t do,” Knippen said.

Robert Ritchie told police four times that he should have check on Austin, Knippen told the jury.

“He’s admitting to the crime,” Knippen said.

Austin’s grandmother and aunt were in the courtroom for much of the trial and waited for the verdict.

Sheri Gredig, the boy’s maternal grandmother, said she had a panic attack when the autopsy photos was show and had to leave the room.

“The last time I saw Austin alive was in January 2015,” she said.

Gredig said her daughter, Austin’s biological mother, did have drug problems, but Austin was never abused while in her care.

“I might have raised somebody who ended up in drugs, but I didn’t raise someone who murdered a child,” the grandmother said.

She added that when Robert Ritchie got custody of Austin, he would not let her see him.

Gredig said she was concerned about Anna Ritchie when she met her.

“I told my daughter, ‘That woman is going to hurt him (Austin),’ ” she said, adding she felt Robert was just as guilty.

Robert Ritchie’s family has also been present for the trial and waited in separate hallway for the verdict. They have not yet offered any comment.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

28 indicted on Middletown drug charges
28 indicted on Middletown drug charges

A 28-person indictment has been handed down for suspects involved in drug activity in Middletown, according to police. As part of the recent coordination between the Middletown Division of Police and the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, a indictments were obtained against 28 suspects who have been involved in drug activity, according to Middletown...
EPA wants feedback on closed Superfund landfill’s condition
EPA wants feedback on closed Superfund landfill’s condition

The U.S. EPA is seeking input on the conditions of the site of a closed Moraine landfill. The agency is gathering information on the Cardington Road Landfill as part of its fourth 5-year review. The 36-acre Superfund site at 1855 Cardington Road was placed on the National Priorities List in 1986, about six years after disposal ended and the land was...
Prison guards didn’t know inmate on bus was being murdered
Prison guards didn’t know inmate on bus was being murdered

Two-time convicted killer Casey Pigge sat in the very back of the prison bus on Feb. 1, out of sight of the three state corrections officers sitting up front. Just two days before Pigge was wrapped in a straitjacket as he pleaded guilty to the February 2016 murder of his cellmate at the Lebanon Correctional Institute, Luther Wade of Springfield. Pigge&rsquo...
Fairfield’s ‘Baby D’ and 2 Mason men indicted on narcotics conspiracy
Fairfield’s ‘Baby D’ and 2 Mason men indicted on narcotics conspiracy

A federal grand jury has charged 16 people, including a 24-year-old Fairfield man known as “Baby D,” in a 45-count indictment that includes charges of distribution of fentanyl, maintaining drug-involved premises, firearms offenses, and money laundering. Two Mason men also are charged. The indictment alleges a drug trafficking organization...
Property values: Miami Twp., Miamisburg show healthy jumps
Property values: Miami Twp., Miamisburg show healthy jumps

Miami Twp. and Miamisburg were both among Montgomery County communities with the highest overall valuations, records show. Miami Twp. had the fifth highest total market value of $88,469,510, followed by Miamisburg at $85,727,970. Both jurisdictions showed healthy bumps in residential land values compared to 2014, the last time valuations were completed...
More Stories