A man pleaded guilty to murder Tuesday, admitting he left his 3-year-old foster son bound up in a closet where he died and then burned his body and threw the remains into the Ohio River.
David Carroll Jr. was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, with an additional year in prison for his guilty plea to gross abuse of a corpse.
He and his wife, Liz, were charged with causing Marcus Fiesel’s death by leaving the developmentally disabled boy wrapped up with a blanket and packing tape in a closet for two days while they went to a weekend family reunion in Kentucky in August. Carroll admitted his role, but continued to blame a live-in companion, Amy Baker, for playing a major part in the boy’s confinement and the subsequent cover-up of his death.
“We left him there,” Carroll told the judge. “And when we came back, he was gone ... he was dead.”
Clermont County Judge Jerry McBride accepted the sentence proposed by prosecutors. Dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, Carroll answered “yes, sir” as McBride explained the plea and his rights. Carroll told the judge he was on medication for bipolar disorder but was thinking clearly Tuesday.
A jury last week convicted Liz Carroll, 30, of murder and six other charges, including involuntary manslaughter and kidnapping, in the boy’s death. She was sentenced to 54 years to life in prison.
As part of the deal with David Carroll, prosecutors agreed to drop six charges against him. Carroll, 29, had faced the same seven charges as his wife, plus the eighth charge of gross abuse of a corpse.
While Liz Carroll’s judge told her last week she showed no remorse, David Carroll urged prayers for the boy in his statement to the court.
“Marcus was a sweet, gentle and loving child who did not deserve this,” he said.
Daniel “Woody” Breyer, an assistant prosecuting attorney, told the judge prosecutors agreed to the deal because they felt it would be difficult to seat a jury in Clermont County after Liz Carroll’s trial and other extensive publicity, and to avoid the risk of an acquittal.
“We would rather have a guarantee,” Breyer said.
Afterward, he told reporters that prosecutors don’t believe David Carroll’s statements that Baker was directing the Carrolls and threatened their family if they didn’t go along with a cover-up.
Prosecutors didn’t pursue charges against Baker after she agreed to cooperate. Baker, who had an affair with David Carroll and then moved in with the couple, testified for the prosecution in Liz Carroll’s trial.
Prosecutors say the couple found the boy dead when they returned home from the reunion. The Carrolls then claimed the child had disappeared from a park in suburban Cincinnati, sparking a search by thousands of volunteers.
Prosecutors in Hamilton County also agreed to drop charges against David Carroll of making false alarms and inducing panic, Clermont prosecutors said. The charges were related to the claim that the boy was missing.