Stein Sentenced To Eight Years For Shaking Infant Son
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 16, 2005
MANSFIELD, OHIO--The father who fought doctors all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court to keep his son on a ventilator has been sentenced to eight years in prison for causing the boy's brain injury.
After a two-week trial a Richland County Common Pleas Court on September 7 found Matthew Stein guilty of felony assault and child endangerment of his son, Aiden. On Monday, the same jury sentenced Stein, 22, to the maximum penalty allowed.
Stein's attorney, Kenneth Boggs, indicated that his client would appeal the verdict.
Prosecutors told the Akron Beacon Journal that the conviction means Stein would not face murder charges if his 23-month-old son dies.
Stein has denied shaking Aiden when he was alone with the then 5-month-old infant on March 15, 2004. At his sentencing, Stein told the judge: "No matter what anybody thinks about me, me and God know the truth and when I die all I have to do is answer to God."
Several experts testified that Aiden had sustained injuries that were consistent with shaken-baby syndrome. Because of the injuries, doctors claim, the toddler is blind, deaf, and in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.
Last year, doctors at Akron Children's Hospital told a court that it would be in Aiden's best interest to remove the ventilator that keeps him alive. That court appointed a temporary guardian after doctors argued that Mr. Stein and Aiden's mother, Arica Heimlich, 22, had a conflict of interest in wanting to keep the boy alive because of the potential criminal charges.
Aiden's parents have argued that the child is alert, responds to them, opens his eyes, holds up his own head, follows sounds, and even sits up. They contend that he will recover further if given more time.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled last December that a lower court had no authority to appoint the temporary guardian to decide to end the child's life when the parents' rights had not yet been permanently terminated.
In April, Aiden's parents, gave up their custody rights to Mr. Stein's mother. She says she will fight any attempt to remove the boy from his ventilator.
The conflict between Aiden's parents and the hospital over his fate highlights a growing debate over who -- parents or doctors -- should decide the course of action when a child experiences a significant brain injury or other disability.
"Aiden Stein's father guilty" (Akron Beacon Journal)
"Father gets eight years in assault of baby boy" (Akron Beacon Journal)
"Aiden Stein: Hospital Wants Baby's Life Support Removed" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)