CHILLICOTHE- A Ross County man appealed his conviction in a child abuse case Thursday in front of judges from the Ohio Fourth District Court of Appeals.
Casey B. Cutright had previously been sentenced to 21 years in prison in May 2020 after being convicted of three counts of endangering a child, each a second-degree felony.
Cutright and his co-defendant, Amber N. Pentheny, were arrested in 2019 after it was discovered that the victim, a 3-month-old, had over 20 fractures across their body in various states of healing, according to Ross County Prosecutor Jeffrey Marks.
This appeared to have occurred over an approximately two-and-a-half-month period, with the newest fracture, to the doctor's best guess, to have occurred approximately two weeks before the Cutright's arrests.
"We've been foster parents for nine and a half years and this is the worst abuse case that we or any of the doctors and social workers we worked with had ever seen," said the child's father in a joint statement with his wife at Cutright's sentencing. "He looked like he had been taken from a war camp or some other horrendous scene."
Cutright's attorney, Paul Giorgianni, questioned in his appeal why Pentheny, who divorced Cutright in 2019, did not testify at Cutright's trial in August.
"One of the issues I raise in my brief is that the fact she didn't testify is something that the court can use to weigh in favor of Mr. Cutright. Why did she not testify? She would have been the single best witness against him," he said. "The court is allowed to make an inference in favor of Mr. Cutright in that regard."
He also asked judges to weigh a crucial confession made to a detective, questioning the reliability of the confession.
Giorgianni argued that his client was of borderline intelligence, and was led to a confession by a detective.
"Cases like this explain how innocent people get convicted," he told the panel of judges.
"The accused with borderline intelligence is living with the mother who's incapable of caring for the child and neglecting the child.
Both these people have psychedelic issues, it's emotionally fraught. The detective aggressively and with almost exclusively leading questions, leads the accused through a half hour of questions."
Giorgianni urged the court to weigh in on the principle of manifest weight of the evidence, and as they listen to the recording of the interview, assume that Cutright made a false confession. "Assume it's a false confession, assume that Mr. Cutright never touched the child. Assume that Mr. Cutright made these statements for some reason known only to the child's mom."
Giorgianni also asked them to consider whether the confession, taken even at face value, proved that Cutright caused serious physical harm, as opposed to the lower standard of physical harm, highlighting portions of the interview where Cutright admitted to squeezing the victim, resulting in a noise that Cutright believed to be consistent with bone dislocation.
"Mr. Cutright is a lay person who failed to complete high school and whose IQ is borderline range of intellectual functioning. Mr. Cutright's medical speculation is not competent evidence of serious physical harm as opposed to physical harm," Giorgianni said.
This would allow a jury only the option to convict for a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony.The 4th District Court of Appeals has yet to render a decision in the case.