A Vermont man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter after he put vodka in the feeding tube of his girlfriend's severely disabled son was sentenced to three years in prison on July 26.
Walter Richters, 38, claimed he gave the vodka to 13-year-old Isaac Robitille with the consent of Isaac's mother, Melissa Robitille, according to The Associated Press. Richters and Melissa were dating and shared a home when the crime occurred in August 2014.
Richters explained that he poured vodka into Isaac's feeding tube because the child was "being fussy."
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"By causing alcohol to be ingested by [Isaac] in his feeding bag, and in doing so disregarding death or injury, Walter Richters committed the crime of manslaughter," state attorney Maria Byford said, according to WPTZ.
Richters was sentenced to three years in prison and given credit for one and a half years already served.
As part of his plea deal, Richters agreed to testify against Melissa, his co-defendant, who now faces a second degree murder charge, according to the Sun.
Isaac was blind, had no ears, a cleft palate and developmental delays in walking and talking. He required up to 80 hours of care per week. His feeding tubes administered a pediatric nutritional drink, baby formula, water and vitamins.
While prosecutors argued that Melissa knew the vodka would cause her son serious harm, the presiding judge said there was not enough evidence for a first degree murder charge.
"You've got to show me what these people knew in advance, that they were conscious of it … as opposed to being a mistake," he said.
Richter says he regrets his actions.