By RYAN DUNN
Jerrod Hartman, accused of murdering his infant son, has invoked an insanity defense.
Hartman, 25, of Findlay, on Thursday pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in Hancock County Common Pleas Court to murder and endangering children charges.
Judge Joseph Niemeyer accepted Hartman’s change of plea and set a Jan. 20 trial date.
Hartman’s son, James, who was 44 days old, died Oct. 28 at 321 Third St. in Findlay, city police said. A coroner ruled the death was a homicide from multiple blunt trauma.
The insanity plea regards Jerrod Hartman’s criminal responsibility for the death of his son, said his attorney, Lorin Zaner. It does not pertain to Hartman’s competency to stand trial, Zaner said.
Judge Niemeyer ordered a psychiatric evaluation at the Court Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Toledo. A report is due within 30 days.
The new plea came after experts determined Hartman has parasomnia, a sleep disorder, Zaner wrote to the court.
Parasomnias are a wide range of disorders that can cause outbursts. Symptoms include flailing limbs and sleep terrors.
Hartman has spent tens of thousands of dollars investigating his case, according to Zaner. He remains free on a $250,000 bond while court proceedings continue.
Thursday’s hearing was the case’s first in nearly four months. Pretrial hearings are scheduled for Sept. 4 and Oct. 9.
Separately, prosecutors recently filed a list of potential trial witnesses.
The pool includes Cierra Carpenter, the mother of James Hartman; Matthew Hartman, Jerrod Hartman’s father and president of Findlay’s Tour de Force CRM software company; and Chris Ostrander, president of North American Tire Operations at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and a family friend.
Ostrander defended Jerrod Hartman in a November letter to Findlay Municipal Court. Hartman’s account of accidentally falling asleep with his son on the couch was genuine, Ostrander wrote.
The witness list comprises dozens of people among area law enforcement, medical personnel and family members.