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January 27, 2015

Father heads to prison for death of daughter

GREENVILLE – The father of a baby girl that died in her crib last February will spend the next three years in prison.

Scott A. Webber, 29, of Greenville appeared for sentencing Thursday afternoon in the Darke County Common Pleas Court. He was found guilty as charged in April by Judge Jonathan P. Hein during a bench trial of the case.  The counts were merged for sentencing with the judge only using the more severe charge of Involuntary Manslaughter.

Webber and his wife Lauren Jones were charged with one count each of Involuntary Manslaughter, a first degree felony, and Endangering Children, a felony of the third degree, after an investigation into the February 2013 death of their 16-month-old daughter who died of asphyxiation while in her crib. Investigators believed a combination of the adult sleep-aid ZzzQuil, the couple admitted to giving her that night, and clutter inside the crib led to the baby’s death.

“This is truly a tragic case. I have not had a tougher trial to go through in my 25 years because you had a beautiful 16-month-old daughter that looked like a little doll, but was never gonna wake up again,” defense attorney David A. Rohrer stated during sentencing.

“How more do you punish a person than in the death of their child,” Rohrer added. “I find it ironic that the state feels my client is more responsible than the mother in this case.”

The mother, Lauren Jones served a 90 day jail sentence with probation as part of a plea agreement to testify against Webber at trial. Jones was present at Thursday’s sentencing to support her husband and was visibly emotional during the entire hearing.

“All the investigators in this case agreed that it was obvious that he was in charge of the relationship,” Darke County Prosecuting Attorney Kelly Ormsby stated during sentencing. “If he told her to give the baby medicine she followed his orders to avoid conflict.”

A pre-sentence investigation showed that Webber has no prior felony convictions on his record and has had only moderate alcohol and drug usage in his past. Judge Hein handed down the minimum three year sentence in the case.

“There needs to a standard and expectation set for child care, that consequence and a sentence serves that purpose,” Judge Hein stated before handing down the minimum three year sentence.

Webber has 30 days to appeal the decision of the court if he chooses to do so. He will be placed on five years post release control after he serves his prison term.

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