Father sentenced to 3 years for daughter’s death

By Irene Haluska

June 5, 2014

DARKE COUNTY – Scott Webber, 29, of Greenville, was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday in the Darke County Court of Common Pleas for charges of child endangerment and involuntary manslaughter of his 16-month-old daughter.

Webber participated last year in supervising and giving an adult sleeping aid, ZzzQuil, to sedate his daughter who then died from the dosage, as well as sleeping in a crib overloaded with clothes and toys, according to the court in April.

Webber asked for the mercy of the court and said he would trade that day with his daughter.

“Any sentence that’s imposed, I relived it, I lived it … . I tried to bring my daughter back. … I tried to revive my daughter. I tried to bring my daughter back and it didn’t work and those are the mistakes I made, and I have to live with it,” said Webber.

Webber’s wife, Lauren K. Jones, 28, of Greenville, was present in the courtroom visibly crying. She was sentenced to a 90-day jail sentence on April 11 for child endangering, a third degree felony, for cooperating with prosecution and providing testimony in the case against Webber.

For Webber, the involuntary manslaughter charge is a first degree felony that had a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison. The child endangerment charge is a third degree felony and carried a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

Judge Hein explained that in Ohio the minimum sentencing in this case was given as he merged the manslaughter with the child endangerment charge. He reviewed the father’s personal history and risk assessment as moderate. Webber is an Olmsted Falls High School of 2003 with some educational challenges and has been employed on and off. He also had some traffic violations, treatment for mental health and had abused marijuana and alcohol starting at age 18.

Hein observed that the girl’s death is a tragedy, and society struggles with it and that the child is the heart of humanity. He added the Webber was the decision-maker in the relationship and researched dosage on the Internet, and the wife had a lesser inteligence level.

“There needs to be a standard set about childcare … what does anybody learn from a difficult experience?,” Hein said.

For sentencing purposes he sentenced Webber to three years in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, with 45 days previously served jail time, five years of post-release supervision. Webber must pay court costs or exchange that for community service.

Prosecuting Attorney R. Kelly Ormsby said that he sought the more serious manslaughter charge, but agreed with the ultimate three years and principals of sentencing to protect the public and properly punish the defendant, and to deter others from such an act. He added this is a serious crime - to double and triple check the dosages of over-the-counter drugs for their children.

While he recommended in court not demeaning the charge or defendant in Ohio, the baby was just 16 months old and totally dependent on the parents. It was a bad environment where she slept. The crib was overloaded with clothes. Ormsby referred to it as “a disaster waiting to happen.” The drug was clearly marked not to be used for anyone under age 12.

During the hearings, testimony from Dr. Laureen Marinetti, Chief Forensic Toxicologist for the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office and the Miami Valley Regional Crime Lab, determined that the baby’s sedation contributed in her death. Other factors included a demonstration of the baby’s crib that had many blankets and toys, which was located in the parent’s bedroom.

The Webber’s other child is living with family in Florida.

Defense Attorney, David Rohrer, agreed that it is tragic, but called the sentencing to punish the father for the death of the child “horrible” and “ironic.” The mother is typically given parental rights over children and here was given a plea to make the father responsible. He tried to give the baby mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Rohrer later added he will file an appeal within 30 days to be fair to Webber even though he doesn’t expect to be Webber’s attorney in the appeal.