Thursday, March 8th, 2007
Father receives suspended six-month jail sentence
By Margie Wuebker
A Fort Recovery father, whose young daughter was injured by the family's puppy, received a suspended six-month jail sentence Wednesday in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.
Kirk C. Steinbrunner, 21, 406 S. Wayne St., pleaded no contest Feb. 2 to an amended charge of endangering children, a first-degree misdemeanor. As part of a negotiated plea, the state reduced the charge from a third-degree felony.
Defense attorney Dan Myers admitted an "unfortunate accident" put the child in harm's way.
"He did not do what he should have done," Myers said on his client's behalf. "He should have done more, like putting the child in a crib."
Myers requested any jail sentence be suspended and his client be put under community control sanctions for a minimal time.
"I'm sorry I didn't keep watch over my daughter," Steinbrunner said in court.
Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox did not mince words stating "This was not an unfortunate accident ... it was a violation of duty, care, protection and support. It is fortunate the injuries were not more serious."
Judge Jeffrey Ingraham listened intently before telling Steinbrunner, "People make mistakes, some of which involve the failure to do things we should do. On reflection, overcaring can be a better approach than providing less care."
In addition to the suspended jail sentence, Ingraham also imposed up to two years CCS.
The charge stems from an incident occurring on or about Feb. 3 at his Wayne Street residence and resulting in multiple injuries to his 7-month-old daughter.
Steinbrunner had charge of the infant while his wife (a college student) spent the night with relatives in Indiana due to fog. A stipulation of facts submitted by the state indicates he allowed the child to fall asleep and remain on the floor overnight. He also left a 3- to 4-month-old beagle/bassett puppy unattended throughout the night.
The animal inflicted multiple scratches and bites, which Steinbrunner discovered after reportedly hearing the child cry around 5:30 a.m. His wife returned home about the same time, and they sought medical attention at Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater.
Emergency room records accompanying the court document listed injuries to the face, trunk, upper left arm and both legs as a result of the unprovoked attack. The attending physician described their number as "too numerous to count" with the legs sustaining the most injuries.
Staff members consulted with Children's Services, the Mercer County Sheriff's Office and Fort Recovery Police. Information obtained from a subsequent investigation was presented to a grand jury, which returned a one-count indictment.
Defense attorney Dan Myers also provided a copy of a letter from local pediatrician Dr. Nazih J. Dabiz, who would have testified if the matter went to trial. According to the letter, Dabiz would have testified the victim suffered neither acute nor serious damage. Additionally, he found no sign of serious physical harm, only scratches that appeared to be superficial.
In order to convict on the original felony charge, there had to be proof showing physical harm resulted from the violation.