A Vermont man was sentenced to just three years in prison after he admitted to killing his girlfriend’s disabled child by putting vodka in his intravenous feeding tube, authorities said.
Walter Richters, 40, pleaded guilty in October to manslaughter in the August 2014 death of 13-year-old Isaac Robitille.
Police say Isaac’s mother, Melissa Robitille, allowed Richters to give her child vodka through a feeding tube because he was “being fussy.”
Isaac was born without ears, was blind and had a cleft palate. He also had developmental delays, and required the assistance of caretakers for up to 80 hours a week.
The boy's blood-alcohol content was .146 at the time of his death, nearly twice the legal limit for driving, authorities said.
He lived on a diet of pediatric nutritional drink, baby formula, water and vitamins dispensed through a feeding tube.
Richters was sentenced Tuesday in St. Johnsbury under a plea deal with prosecutors that will see him testify against Robitille, who faces a second degree murder charge.
She pleaded not guilty.
Robitille allegedly told her boyfriend the alcohol wouldn’t hurt Isaac, but prosecutors said she knew that changes to her son’s feeding could be harmful to him, the Caledonian Record reported.
“We have a defendant that said she's nervous when she switches up the juice that she gives to him,” Deputy Caledonia County States Attorney Maria Byford said in October 2014.
Condolences poured in on Robitille's Facebook page at the time of Isaac's death, after the mother posted on August 22, 2014: "My son Isaac passed away this morning."
She had uploaded a photo of Isaac and Richter to her Facebook in May of that year sitting in a waiting room, writing: "They get along famously" and included a smiley face in the comment.
"Thank you for coming with us today - you were so much help," she wrote to Ritcher.
"I wouldn't have had it any other way," he replied.
Richter, who said he regrets what he did, was given credit for the 1 1/2 years he’s already served. He was also sentenced to six years’ probation after his release.