Jury finds man not guilty of child endangering

Staff photo / Ed Runyan Tears flowed as Devontay M. Anderson, 23, of Akron, heard Judge W. Wyatt McKay, a visiting judge, read a not guilty verdict Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. At right is Anderson’s attorney, Aaron Meikle.

YOUNGSTOWN — A jury has found an Akron man not guilty of child endangering following a trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

If he would have been convicted, Devontay M. Anderson, 23, could have received several years in prison.

Anderson, who took the stand Wednesday, was accused of failing to protect a 15-month-old boy that prosecutors said Anderson was babysitting in November at a home on Tod Lane on Youngstown’s North Side. The boy suffered serious burns to his legs and feet. Prosecutors said the burns came from scalding water from a sink.

In closing arguments before the jury deliberated, Anderson’s attorney, Aaron Meikle, questioned whether there was clear communication between the boy’s mother and Anderson before she left to take a driver’s test at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

“She didn’t give any instructions,” Meikle said. “He didn’t know he could climb up on the sink, so how is he to know and anticipate every potential danger in that apartment?”

“Could he have predicted that by just him falling asleep on the couch, this kid would get third-degree burns and get severely injured? No.” Meikle said “It seems like a pretty safe apartment.”

He added, “Even if he knew he was to be watching (the boy). Even if he knew that (the boy) was there and he fell asleep, that doesn’t recklessly create a substantial risk of harm. He’s not guilty.”

Anderson testified that he thought he was in the apartment alone and didn’t even know the boy was there. He fell asleep and awoke to the boy’s cries after the boy was burned, Meikle said.

Meikle said the jurors heard testimony that Anderson and others “were smoking weed, he took a Xanax, maybe some Suboxone.” Meikle said Anderson “is not innocent, but he’s not guilty.”

Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Day said in his closing argument Anderson understood the boy needed to be watched carefully because Anderson had watched the boy before.

“He understood the risk of a 15-month-old just roaming around the house,” Day said.

He asked if any of the jurors would allow their 15-month-old to play in the bathroom.

“Do you know how many bad things can happen in a bathroom? You can get into hot water for starters, which (the boy) did. You can turn on the water and drown,” Day said.

In opening statements in the trial, Katherine Jones, assistant county prosecutor, said the boy was flown by helicopter to the burn unit of the main campus of Akron Children’s Hospital, where he was treated for second- and third-degree scald burns to more than 18% of his body.

Have an interesting story? Call Ed Runyan at erunyan@vindy.com


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