YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A father accused of abusing his child was found guilty on all counts Thursday.
Eric Pendland shook his then-infant son so violently two years ago, the boy is now blind and permanently disabled.
Prosecutors and family friends said this was an emotional case.
“I’m very happy with the verdict. I feel as though he got the justice that he deserved,” said family friend Hannah Schulte.
It only took jurors a little over an hour to decide Pendland was guilty of abusing his son.
He stood emotionless as Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Gene Donofrio read the guilty verdict twice — a verdict announced to a nearly silent courtroom, packed full of emotion.
“I thought I could get to see his first steps, I thought I could get to see him go to school and have a life, and he got that taken away from him,” Schulte said.
Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin said she was brought to tears preparing for trial.
“This baby was 3 months old and for him to have sustained these types of injuries, and now his life — it’s destroyed,” she said. “It’s just, this was a bad one.”
On Wednesday, prosecutors brought in a doctor who explained to jurors what happened to the baby’s brain.
The doctor said the baby’s brain was bleeding, caused by someone shaking him back and forth and side to side.
This child’s life is forever changed.
“He’s now permanently disabled. He can’t see, he can’t hear, he’ll be on a feeding tube the rest of his life,” McLaughlin said.
Schulte knew the baby from birth and is glad to see the guilty verdict, but said nothing can take away from what Pendland did to his son.
“I know that at the end of the day, even though [Pendland] lost everything, he still deserved it.”
Even though they got justice, prosecutors said this was still
a very difficult case.
“Especially when neither of the parents were in any way in support of this baby,” McLaughlin said.
The baby, who is now in the care of the state, lives in a therapeutic foster home.
“Even though he will not have a normal life, he will have a happy life,” Schulte said. “That’s all I can wish.”
As Pendland left the courtroom in handcuffs, his blank stare couldn’t overpower the message Schulte leaves for his son.
“You are important and that your life has value. Never forget that,” she said. “Even though the worst thing happened, don’t forget it.”