By Ed Runyan
Scott H. Walker, 35, was sentenced to 11 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter for punching his girlfriend’s 4-year-old son in the stomach June 14, 2013, killing him.
Nicholas Partin died the next day after family members called 911 to get help at their home on North Park Avenue Extension in Bazetta. A police officer found the boy unresponsive in the kitchen and tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead later at the hospital.
Neither Walker nor any members of the boy’s family spoke at the sentencing.
Jennifer Light, 34, the boy’s mother, who pleaded guilty earlier to various charges in the case, told authorities Walker hit Nicholas Partin in the stomach when Walker became angry with the boy.
Walker later admitted that he hit him with the back of his hand but denies using a closed fist. The blow caused slow internal bleeding that led to his death, said Diane Barber, assistant Trumbull County prosecutor.
A teardrop-shaped mark on the boy’s stomach has been identified as having come from the ring Walker was wearing, Barber said. Walker also had a bruised and swollen knuckle on the back of his right hand, police said.
Nicholas lived with his mother, Walker, an 8-year-old brother, and two grandparents at 2910 North Park Extension, near Everett Hull Road in Bazetta Township.
Walker was indicted on charges of murder, felonious assault and child endangering and could have gotten a life prison term with parole eligibility after 15 years if convicted.
But those charges were reduced Monday in common please court to involuntary homicide, which carried a prison penalty of up to 11 years.
Barber said one reason for the reduction was that a medical expert hired by Walker’s attorneys was prepared to testify that Nicholas was the victim of chronic abuse, and she would have testified that earlier abuse by another person could have contributed to his death.
“That had to be taken into consideration,” Barber said, adding that she doesn’t know whether Nicholas was the victim of earlier abuse or whether another person abused him.
Light pleaded guilty earlier to involuntary manslaughter, four counts of obstructing justice and single counts of permitting child abuse and endangering children. Judge Logan will sentence her Aug. 19.
The plea agreement prosecutors reached with her called for her to get five to 10 years in prison in return for her testimony at Walker’s trial, if necessary.
Barber said Light’s four counts of obstructing justice relate to the four times she misled authorities June 15 by telling them she had taken Nicholas to a local hospital and for saying that her son’s injuries were caused by ingesting carpet cleaner.
Another charge says Light failed her duty of care, protection or support of the boy because she did not seek medical attention for him even though she saw Walker hit Nicholas and saw him react by saying “ouch” and doubling over.