Friday, August 17, 2001

Plea bargain ends case of man who injured son

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A Hamilton paramedic on Thursday pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor child endangering charges involving injuries to his infant son.

        Jon Cook, 37, pleaded to the reduced charges to avoid going to trial on two felony charges in Butler County Common Pleas Court next week. He faces up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine on each count, but could receive probation.

        Judge Michael J. Sage said he wanted to see a mental health evaluation before deciding on what sentence to give Mr. Cook. Sentencing is set for Sept. 27.

        It was unclear what effect, if any, the plea might have on Mr. Cook's job status. He remains free on bond.

        Mr. Cook's attorney, Ronald Ruppert of Franklin, said that, despite the guilty pleas, his client did nothing intentional to hurt his son, Aaron. The child, born in January 2000, suffered a broken finger, a broken rib and some bleeding inside his head between February and April 2000, said Assistant Prosecutor Steve Tolbert.

        Mr. Cook told authorities the injuries came from inadvertent rough play.

        Mr. Cook's pleas came on the one-year anniversary of his indictment. “This case is a year old now, and we reached a resolution today that I feel is fair to both sides,” Mr. Tolbert said.

        Contrary to previous reports, Aaron suffered no brain damage, Mr. Ruppert said, and in fact, appears to have no permanent harm. The blond, blue-eyed child, who was present in court Thursday “seems to be a happy, developing young fellow,” Mr. Tolbert agreed.

        The lack of permanent injury was a factor in why authorities accepted Mr. Cook's guilty pleas to the reduced charges, Mr. Tolbert said. Mr. Cook had faced four to 16 years in prison if he had been convicted on the original felony counts.

        The lead detective on the case, John Marcum, said he had no problem with the plea agreement.

        “I just hope that this family unit is able to work through this and that no thing remotely close to this happens ever again,” Mr. Tolbert said.


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