Youngstown father found guilty for shaking, blinding infant
A Youngstown father was was found guilty Thursday for what prosecutors describe as abuse of his infant, shaking him so violently he was permanently disabled.
A jury in Mahoning County only took one hour and fifteen minutes to reach a verdict in an alleged child abuse case where a father left his infant son permanently disabled.
Eric Pendland of Youngstown was found guilty of two counts of Endangering Children and was taken into custody by the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department immediately, and his bond revoked at the order of Judge Anthony Donofrio of the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Prosecutors say it was on March 1, 2017 when Pendland shook his son, Eric, Jr. so hard that the boy was left with permanent brain damage.
At that time doctors at Akron Children's Hospital in Boardman said Eric, Jr. who was only three months old at the time could have died. He had bleeding on the brain, was unresponsive and had hemorrhages in his eyes. He ultimately survived after two and a half months in the hospital and at least three surgeries. But the now two and a half year old is permanently disabled, unable to see or hear, will have to be on a feeding tube the rest of his life and isn't expected to ever walk.
Judge Anthony Donofrio says the Endangering Children convictions come with an additional finding that Pendland's crime resulted in the serious physical harm of his son.
The victim's mother was not present in the courtroom but long time family friends were there and thanked prosecutors Jennifer McLaughlin and Steve Yacovone.
Hannah Schulte burst into tears as she told 21 News that the baby's father deserved to go to prison for what he's done. Schulte, who is a family friend of the mother burst into tears as she thought about the young victim in this case. "He didn't deserve this, I watched him come out of his Mom. He won't ever have a normal life, but now he can have a good life. There's a lot of people who love you and will always be there for you. Know that your life is important and your life has value."
Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin says, "After we heard some of the information about this baby's lasting disability I actively went home and cried. Normally I try very hard to not emotionally get involved like that in cases, but this baby was three months old."
Assistant Prosecutor Steve Yacovone who worked with McLaughlin on the case says, "Attorney McLaughlin and I are partners on these types of cases so we spend a lot of time with each other interviewing witnesses, interviewing victims, talking to doctors so it's a long journey, and like I said this was an emotional case with the injuries the victim suffered. So it was just a relief that even though the victim may not know it -- he did get some type of justice today in this court."
The victim is now in the custody of Mahoning County Children's Services and being cared for by a foster family that is suited to handle the special care he will need in life.
His father could be sentenced to a maximum of eleven years in the future, and prosecutors tell me they plan to ask for that maximum sentence.