The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

June 5, 2014

Father who endangered son to be ‘watched’ 5 years

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

HERMITAGE — A Hermitage man who pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of his 2-month-old son will be under the thumb of authorities for five years, mostly on parole and probation.

Noting that Tony B. Hipkins’ girlfriend is pregnant with Hipkins’ second child, Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert G. Yeatts said, “We’re going to watch you for a long time. These kids are going to be young for a long time. I want you supervised for as long as possible.”

The child is under the care of Mercer County Children and Youth Services. Yeatts said that a CYS official told him Hipkins has cooperated with the agency and considers him sincere and motivated in wanting to eventually get his son back.

However, the judge said he doubted Hipkins’ characterization of the incident as an accident.

“Mr. Hipkins, we’ll allow no slip-ups,” Yeatts told him Wednesday. “There’s a no-tolerance policy here. We’re going to protect these children.”

Hipkins, 22, of 1535 Parke Drive, Hermitage, was charged by Hermitage police after the boy was taken Aug. 20 to Akron Children’s Hospital, Boardman, Ohio.

Hipkins and the boy’s mother, Kristen Williams, 20, told medical personnel Hipkins was holding the boy, who began to kick his legs, and Hipkins heard a crack, police said.

Medical personnel told police the broken leg femur and two cracked ribs they discovered were not consistent with the parents’ account and they believe the boy had been abused, police said.

The guilty plea entered Aug. 8 only accounts for the boy’s broken leg.

“What I did was a complete accident,” Hipkins said Wednesday. “I’m sorry for what I did.”

Assistant Mercer County District Attorney Brian Farrone said the amount of force necessary to cause the injuries was “significant,” and that Hipkins has not shown remorse.

“This was no accident,” Farrone said. “This was an intentional act.”

Yeatts said he also did not believe an accident caused the injuries.

“The defendant’s story does not add up,” the judge said.

Hipkins’ attorney, Melissa M. Merchant-Calvert, said Hipkins is visiting the child three times a week, taking parenting and anger management classes and attending counseling.

“He does everything CYS has asked of him,” Merchant-Calvert said.

She also noted Hipkins works full time and had a heart attack last summer, which she said was an apparent result of having to walk to work in excessive heat.

Yeatts sentenced Hipkins to 1 year less 1 day to 2 years less 1 day in jail followed by 3 years’ probation. The judge made Hipkins eligible for house arrest for the jail portion of his sentence.

The CYS official’s positive statements about Hipkins’ conduct kept Hipkins from state prison, Yeatts said.

Williams also was charged by police, but they withdrew the charges two months later.