Father heads to prison for son’s injuries

By Clinton Randall clintonrandall@civitasmedia.com

January 30, 2014

GREENVILLE - The father of an infant that was injured in November 2012 will spend the next 18 months in prison after being sentenced Thursday afternoon in the Darke County Common Pleas Court.

The parents, father Cody Cantrell, 22, and the mother Chelsea Hartman, 21, were indicted on felony counts after an investigation showed their, then 2-week-old son, had sustained severe injuries. The child was treated for brain and spinal injuries, broken bones and facial bruising at Children’s Medical Center in Dayton.

Cantrell pleaded guilty under the Alford plea on Jan. 8 to two third degree felony counts of Endangering Children. The Alford plea was entered by the defendant since he did not agree with the prosecution on the facts in the case, but did not want to risk a jury trial and a possible stiffer sentence.

“This is a very troubling case,” Darke County Prosecuting Attorney Kelly Ormsby stated during Thursday’s sentencing. “Mr. Cantrell initially admitted to police that he thought he had caused the injuries by treating the child roughly or by swinging the child by his arms and throwing him down on the bed or sofa.”

“Later Mr. Cantrell gave a different version telling police that he had fallen with the infant on stairs three days before the child was taken to the hospital and that was what had caused the injuries,” Ormsby added.

“While we agree that the child was injured, there is a real conflict with how the injuries occurred,” stated Cantrell’s defense attorney Randall E. Breaden. “The medical testimony was not conclusive and that is one of the reasons the state agreed to the Alford plea.”

“I am guilty for not seeking medical attention soon enough,” Cantrell stated prior to sentencing. “It was a very stressful time, I did panic and it was erratic.”

“When this happened I was very upset and I told Cody to his face that if I find out you hurt this baby, I will disown you,” Cantrell’s father addressed the court. “That is what was going through his mind when he went to the police station. He didn’t know what to do. I did him a great disservice.”

During the hearing, an alleged text message that Cantrell sent Hartman asking her to take the blame for the incident was brought up before the court.

“Before I knew he sent the text, I told Cody that he better hope she was the one that did this. The court will have more mercy on her,” Cantrell’s father said.

Cantrell and Hartman recently signed their parental rights over to the state so the child may be put up for adoption.

“At a minimum this case is about reckless conduct,” stated Judge Jonathan P. Hein while imposing the 18-month prison sentence. “Protecting life is important which is an indictment from society. In this case punishing and preventing others is the court’s goal.”

Cantrell was immediately taken into custody of the Darke County Sheriff’s Office to await transport to the Correctional Reception Center in Orient, Ohio. He will be placed on post release control for up to 36 months after completing the prison term. Hartman is scheduled for a jury trial in February.

“Due to the age and the injuries of the child involved, I truly hope that Cantrell does the entire 18-month sentence and judicial release is not granted,” stated lead detective Eric Roberts of the Greenville Police Department.

The baby who is now over one year old has reportedly recovered fully from all his injuries and suffers no permanent damage.