Describing physical abuse that began almost from the day 3-month-old Carter Steinmiller was born, an assistant Wood County prosecutor said Wednesday that the child’s father was responsible for broken bones, burns on his hands and feet, head injuries, and bone fractures that ultimately led to the infant’s death.
Brian Steinmiller, 32, of Bowling Green pleaded guilty Wednesday in Wood County Common Pleas Court to one count of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of endangering children for the injuries and the May 5, 2012, death of his son.
Gwen Howe-Gebers, chief assistant prosecutor, said that in exchange for Steinmiller’s guilty pleas, prosecutors would recommend the court dismiss charges of murder and two additional counts of endangering children at sentencing. She said the two sides had agreed to a stipulated 10-year prison sentence.
Judge Robert Pollex scheduled sentencing for Nov. 22 and told Steinmiller he did not have to impose the recommended sentence. The charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 17 years in prison.
Ms. Howe-Gebers told the court Carter suffered numerous and extensive injuries while under his father’s care early in 2012. He had suffered at least 15 broken ribs as well as burns on the palms of his hands and fingers.
She said the coroner and a forensic anthropologist would have testified to the injuries, some of which occurred near the time of Carter’s death and others that were inflicted previously.
“She would have testified ... that this child, since the date of birth on Jan. 20, 2012, suffered a number of broken bones throughout his young life,” Ms. Howe-Gebers said.
Asked by Judge Pollex if he acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict him on the charges, Steinmiller, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and full beard, replied, “Yes, your Honor.”
His attorney, Alan Konop, declined to comment afterward.
The victim’s mother, Rebecca Steinmiller, 26, is charged with endangering children for allegedly failing to contact police or seek medical treatment for her son. Her case is scheduled for a “change of plea” Oct. 29.
Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said his office consented to the plea agreement with Brian Steinmiller because of the difficulty of trying to prove that he caused all of the injuries.
“The injuries to the child are undeniable,” Mr. Dobson said. “The balance of the evidence to identify exactly who did it was problematic, and we took a great deal of time in evaluating the case, discussing it with the maternal grandparents, and determining that it was more valid to have a sure conviction and see substantial prison time than what I think we all wanted.”
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