A Norwalk man was convicted Monday of breaking the leg of his former live-in girlfriend's infant son.
Christoffer M. Mills, 21, formerly of 309 Edwards Road, was living with the girlfriend, her mother and the mother's live-in boyfriend at the time of the July 19 incident. The child was 9 months old.
"He had certain responsibilities for the child," Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said.
Mills "lost his temper" and broke the child's leg, Leffler said, which required the infant to be hospitalized and wear a cast.
The defendant conferred briefly with his attorney, John Allton, before agreeing to the brief set of facts Leffler presented to Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway. Allton said his client disagreed with the prosecutor's use of the word "rage," but otherwise, Mills thought the prosecutor's statement was accurate.
"He is willing to admit he injured the child that day ... willingly, not knowingly," Allton said.
At Monday's hearing, Mills pleaded guilty to one count of felonious assault. In exchange, the state agreed to dismiss another felonious assault charge and one count of child endangering.
Mills exhaled deeply before signing the plea agreement paperwork with his attorney.
The hearing was scheduled to address Allton's motion to hire an expert witness. Conway said during that discussion, the attorneys began hashing out a plea deal.
In early November, Mills turned down an unspecified plea deal with Leffler. The prosecutor had said if the case had gone to trial Jan. 29 and Mills were convicted at the conclusion, he would have recommended a sentence "in excess of 10 years" in prison.
Mills now faces two to eight years in prison on the felonious assault charge, a second-degree felony, when he is sentenced Feb. 28.
"The state would argue for a seven- or eight-year sentence at the time of sentencing," Leffler told the judge Monday.
In late July, the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services (HCDJFS) alleged the infant was abused and neglected. Huron County Juvenile Court records indicate the child was brought to Fisher-Titus Medical Center with broken bones July 19 and three days later, came back with "symptoms of injury."
The boy was transported to Akron Children's Hospital, where Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard interviewed Mills. The sheriff has said Mills was "deceitful" at first, but Mills eventually told him "the child paid the price" for his temper and he injured the boy.
Doctors determined the infant sustained various rib fractures, a tibia "with past and present fractures" and a broken wrist, according to court documents.
The child remains in the temporary custody of HCDJFS and is in foster care. His parents have been granted supervised but separate visitation.
A further disposition hearing in juvenile court will be held next month.
Mills remains in the Huron County Jail, unable to post a $100,000 bond.