Bond was set at $250,000 Wednesday for a Franklin man facing charges related to the scalding death of his 4-year-old son.
Robert L. Ritchie, 31, was indicted Monday by a grand jury on charges of involuntary manslaughter and felony child endangering for allegedly failing to obtain medical treatment for Austin Cooper.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell asked Common Pleas Judge Robert Peeler to set bond at $500,000, noting the seriousness of the charges and the hefty prison sentence they carry.
If convicted, Ritchie faces a maximum of 11 years in prison on the involuntary manslaughter charge and five years for child endangering.
But Ritchie’s defense attorney, Frank Schiavone IV, said Ritchie is employed with no criminal record — “just one speeding ticket” — and strong family support.
“This happened two months ago and he is still here,” Schiavone said. “We ask that reasonable bond be set.”
Peeler split the difference and set the $250,000 bond with the 10 percent rule, meaning Ritchie can post $25,000. If Ritchie makes bond, Peeler ordered him to wear an ankle monitor and not be around any children under the age of 18.
“What I am taking into consideration here for purposes of bond is his danger to the community and to assure his appearance at trial,” Peeler said.
The 4-year-old’s stepmother, Anna Ritchie, Robert’s wife, is awaiting trial for murder. Her bond was previously set at $1 million by Peeler.
Prosecutors say on March 16 at her Franklin home, Anna Ritchie put the boy in a bathtub of scalding water, with an estimated temperature of 126 to 135 degrees, for about 25 minutes. When she pulled him out of the water, skin from Austin’s legs was in the bath water and the tops of his feet were bleeding, according to prosecutors.
Anna Ritchie, 25, put the child to bed and he was found dead the next morning by Robert Ritchie.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said Robert Ritchie knew the child had been burned through cell phone conversations with his wife and did not “set eyes on the child until 15 hours later when he was found deceased.”
If the boy had received medical treatment within the first hours after receiving the injuries, “he would be alive today,” Fornshell said.
After the brief hearing, Fornshell said “certainly Mr. Ritchie is entitled to bail … we will get a trial date and proceed accordingly.”
Schiavone IV, a defense attorney who was retained by Robert Ritchie soon after Anna Ritchie was charged, told this news outlet that “we trust the legal system will work and justice will prevail.”
“He is presumed to be innocent. He should be treated that way …” Schiavone said.
After the hearing, he said Robert Ritchie’s family was raising funds to support him in his legal battle.
“He is no risk at all,” Schiavone IV said.
The husband and wife will receive separate trials, according to Fornshell.
The trial for Anna Ritchie, who is charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter and two counts of child endangering and felonious assault, is set for Sept. 26.
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.