On June 15, 2023, Ohio death-sentenced prisoner Lamont Hunter (pictured) was released after serving nearly 18 years for allegedly causing the death of his 3-year-old son, Trustin Blue. To obtain his freedom, he pleaded guilty to lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. Prosecutors agreed to offer a plea deal after Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Christian A. Jenkins set bond for Mr. Hunter and dismissed prosecutors’ request to deny his bond.

Mr. Hunter was convicted and sentenced to death in 2007 on charges of aggravated murder, child endangerment, and rape in the death of his son who suffered fatal injuries after accidentally falling down the stairs. In his appeal, his attorneys argued that newly discovered evidence cast doubt on the prosecution’s theory that Mr. Hunter caused Trustin’s injuries. In March 2023, the prosecutors agreed to a new trial and vacated his capital convictions because the deputy coroner who initially ruled the death as homicide changed her opinion in a 2021 deposition. Based on her review of evidence that she was not previously given at trial, she testified that the cause of death was undetermined and the injuries she had attributed to sexual assault were accidentally inflicted at the hospital.

During last week’s hearing, Judge Christian A. Jenkins imposed a sentence of time served that was agreed upon as part of the plea deal. Mr. Hunter’s attorney, Erin Barnhart, said, “Trustin was in his care. He accidentally fell down the stairs. Lamont knows that, in a way, he’s responsible − he was the caregiver. But he never harmed Trustin. He loved Trustin.” Assistant Prosecutor Seth Tieger appreciated Mr. Hunter’s accountability by stating “that went a long way with us.”