A Sarasota man will spend 12 years in prison after he admitted to shoving a 3-year-old girl head-first into the bathtub, fracturing her skull.
According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, last September, Nicholas Ritter, 29, took the child to the hospital with critical injuries including two skull fractures, a subgaleal hematoma, and significant bruising to her face and neck.
Ritter was in a relationship with the child's mother at the time and was watching her while the mother was at work. Ritter left the hospital as soon as the mother arrived.
The girl was in acute respiratory failure and spent almost two weeks in the hospital, with several days in a coma.
Her doctors weren't sure she would survive. Thanks to the excellent care she received at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and All Children’s Hospital, she recovered and is doing well today.
Ritter's cell phone data showed that an hour passed after his first call to the child’s mother, stating that she was injured before he took her to the hospital.
At first, Ritter told law enforcement that the child was injured because she fell off the toilet.
"It would be impossible, however, to sustain serious injuries like this by such a short fall," Sarasota County officials said in a press release. "It is also impossible to fracture both sides of the skull in a single fall."
According to investigators, Ritter later admitted that he slapped the child, which still did not account for her injuries. Eventually, Ritter stated that he was trying to get high on drugs and the child kept bothering him, so he shoved her head-first into the bathtub.
Sarasota County Sheriff's crime scene investigators found the child’s blood high up on a broken shower door in the bathroom where Ritter claimed she fell.
Investigators determined that Ritter most likely threw her into the shower door or beat her head against the shower door or adjacent wall, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.
During sentencing, Ritter claimed to have no memory of the incident because of his drug use. Ritter also stated that he was very depressed at the time, and he asked the judge to sentence him to probation so he could get drug treatment and mental health treatment.
Ritter was charged with Aggravated Child Abuse and pled no contest on August 1, 2017 with no agreement on his sentence. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison followed by 15 years of probation on October 12, 2017.