Franklin dad’s conviction for son’s scalding death upheld

The 12th District Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of Robert Ritchie of Franklin for his part in the scalding death of his 4-year-old son.
Caption
The 12th District Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of Robert Ritchie of Franklin for his part in the scalding death of his 4-year-old son.

The conviction of a Franklin man for his part in the scalding death of his 4-year-old son has been upheld by the 12th District Court of Appeals.

Robert Ritchie, 34, a former Dollar General store manager, was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering for the incident that occurred in December 2016.

Ritchie was found guilty after two mistrials and sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2017 by Warren County Judge Common Pleas Judge Robert Peeler.

MORE: Robert Ritchie sentenced to prison in son’s scalding death

Ritchie’s inaction resulted in the death of his son, Austin Cooper, after he was severely burned in a bathtub of water by his stepmother, Anna Ritchie, according to prosecutors and evidence presented at trial.

Anna Ritchie is serving 18 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to murder and other felonies.

On appeal, Robert Ritchie argued he was denied procedural due process rights, arguing the trial court denied multiple requests for mistrial during the five-day trial.

The grounds for mistrial, the defendant and the appellate attorney argued, were because the victim’s family were permitted to sit among potential jurors, that during jury selection potential jurors may have overheard the victim’s family members talking about removal of children from the home, the mischaracterization of evidence pertaining to text messages between Ritchie and Anna Ritchie, and an inaccurate transcript that was used by the defense during cross examination of a detective.

MORE: Franklin woman admits guilt in scalding death of 4-year-old stepson

The appellate judges disagreed with all arguments.

“After reviewing the record and considering each of Ritchie’s arguments, we find Ritchie was denied neither a fair trial nor due process of law,” Appellate Judge Robin Piper wrote in the opinion.