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BOWLING GREEN — Calling the fatal injuries inflicted on a 3-month-old baby by his own father “atrocious,” Wood County Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex Friday ordered the Bowling Green man to spend 14 years in prison.
The sentence was four years longer than prosecutors had recommended as part of a plea agreement with Brian Steinmiller, 32.
He had pleaded guilty Sept. 18 to one count of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of endangering children for the May 5, 2012, death of his son, Carter Steinmiller, and the injuries prosecutors said the baby had suffered almost from the day he was born.
“At the time counsel presented to me this plea agreement, I was not aware of everything,” Judge Pollex said. “I was not aware of the 23 bone fractures and the cigarette burns. That’s atrocious. This is an atrocious crime. This child was basically tortured at his young age.”
He said that despite the agreed-upon, 10-year sentence, he could not impose less than the maximum sentence — 11 years for involuntary manslaughter and three years for each of the endangering children charges, although he did order that the two three-year sentences run concurrently.
Defense attorney Alan Konop said afterward that his client would be appealing the sentence.
Steinmiller, for his part, turned to the child’s grandparents sitting in the courtroom and apologized.
“I’m deeply sorry for what I did. It should have never took place,” he said in a clear voice. “I wish I could give Carter back his life. I’m sorry.”
Mr. Konop told the court that Steinmiller had mental health and drug issues that he should have dealt with long before he became a father. And, while Mr. Konop asserted that Steinmiller had accepted responsibility and shown genuine remorse for what he did, Gwen Howe-Gebers, chief assistant Wood County prosecutor, said it was a little late for that.
“Whatever drug he was on, whether it was K2 or whatever else he was using at the time, at the point that he realized that he had hurt Carter, that he had broken his arm, he continued to take out his frustration on a baby crying, which those of us who are parents realize that’s what babies do,” she said. “He took no steps to say, ‘I need help. I can’t do this.’ He didn’t take the steps to leave. He continued to injure the child not once but a couple times even after realizing that this child had been severely injured.”
Steinmiller then burned the infant’s hands and feet in an attempt to make him stop crying, Ms. Howe-Gebers said.
The child’s mother, Rebecca Steinmiller, 26, called 911 the day Carter died, telling the operator she had awoken from a nap and found her son was not breathing. She pleaded guilty Oct. 29 to endangering children for failing to get help for her son or report the abuse. She faces up to three years in prison when she is sentenced Jan. 28 by Judge Pollex.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.