Joseph M. Sanders, 22, of Uhrichsville, was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading no contest to charges of felonious assault and endangering children. (Submitted)
New Philadelphia, Ohio - The Uhrichsville man accused of causing life-threatening injuries to a toddler will be spending the next five to seven years in prison.
Twenty-two-year-old Joseph M. Sanders entered a plea of no contest Tuesday to one count of felonious assault and two counts of endangering children. Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court Judge Elizabeth Thomakos sentenced him to seven years in prison followed by three years of parole, describing his crime as “reprehensible.”
Sanders was arrested on December 11th in connection with the more than two-month hospitalization of a two-year-old in his care. Assistant Prosecutor Amanda Miller said the child was injured so badly that he had no detectable brain activity when he was life-flighted to Akron Children’s from Cleveland Clinic Union Hosptial.
"It was very quickly determined that he was not showing any meaningful brain function at that time, and so when it was arranged for him to be flown to Akron Children’s, it was also discussed that Akron Children’s would be putting their transplant/harvest team protocols into place," she said.
Miller said it was only by grace and through the incredible skill of the pediatric surgeons at Akron Children’s that the child was able to survive.
Tuscarawas County Job and Family Services Director David Haverfield joined Miller in asking the judge to impose the maximum possible sentence of eight years in prison. He said that even though the child has been steadily healing from the physical injuries, the trauma inflicted on him will last a lifetime.
"He defied the odds time and time again and despite a really grim prognosis, he’s continued to persevere and improve every day but there’s no doubt he will suffer the effects of the harm the rest of his life," he says.
Defense Attorney Gerald Latanich asked the judge to impose a seven-year sentence due to Sanders having no previous felony convictions and being at low risk for recidivism. Judge Thomakos ultimately granted the request, but not before issuing a strong rebuke against Sanders for remaining silent when given an opportunity to answer for his actions.
Sanders will be eligible for judicial release five years into his sentence, but Judge Thomakos said it is unlikely she would be willing to grant that request.
STACEY CARMANY, TUSCO TV