Prosecutor: Father knew Franklin boy had been burned

A Franklin husband and wife are now both in the same Warren County Jail after the March death of a 4-year-old boy who died after being scalded in a bathtub full of water.

A Warren County grand jury returned two felony charges against Robert L. Ritchie, 31, on Monday for involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree felony, and child endangering, a third-degree felony, for allegedly failing to obtain medical treatment for his son, Austin Cooper.

The 4-year-old’s stepmother, Anna Ritchie, Robert’s wife, is awaiting trial for murder.

Prosecutors say on March 16 at her Franklin home she put the boy in a bathtub of scalding water, with an estimated temperature of 126 to 135 degrees, for about 25 minutes and 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.

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.

Frank 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. “All other statements will be made through our pleadings and at all court hearings,” Schiavone said.

The husband and wife will receive separate trials, according to Fornshell. Robert Ritchie will be arraigned Wednesday.

Separate grand juries considered the evidence in each of the Ritchie cases, Fornshell said. Evidence against Anna Ritchie was presented first. The prosecutor said he waited to present Robert Ritchie’s case to a different grand jury because not all evidence will be used at trial against both defendants.

“We wanted to make sure the grand jury wasn’t going to be tainted by evidence they had heard in Anna Ritchie’s case,” Fornshell said.

Anna Ritchie appeared last week Warren County Common Pleas Court for a brief pre-trial hearing. She is charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter and two counts of child endangering and felonious assault. Her trial is set for Sept. 26

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