By EILEEN MCCLORY
A 29-year-old Arlington man, convicted of abusing and killing a 2-year-old Findlay boy in March 2016, was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday. Brent Houdeshell must serve 17 years of that sentence before he is eligible for parole.
Houdeshell was convicted of murder, an unclassified felony; endangering children, a second-degree felony; and tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony. A Hancock County Common Pleas Court jury found him guilty of all three counts on Jan. 17.
In court Thursday, Houdeshell proclaimed his innocence.
“I am innocent of these charges,” Houdeshell said. “I have been wrongly convicted.”
Houdeshell called police at 9 p.m. on March 31, 2016, and reported that Breydon Ferrell had fallen out of his crib and was unresponsive.
An autopsy determined the boy died of head trauma. The autopsy showed the boy had injuries to the face, head, back, legs and feet, including a broken left leg and a bruise on the back of the head.
Three experts testified during Houdeshell’s trial that Breydon’s injuries could not have been caused by falling out of a crib. One defense witness disagreed, saying the injuries could have occurred because of a fall.
Judge Reginald Routson, who oversaw the trial and sentenced Houdeshell, told him Thursday that he had harmed the family of Breydon Ferrell, as well as taking the life and promise of the child.
“You’ve broken their hearts and changed the course of their lives,” Routson said.
The judge added, “As adults, we have a special duty to care for and protect our children, especially those with vulnerability. Their needs must always come before our wants.”
Houdeshell had an extensive criminal record prior to this case, including convictions when he was a juvenile. He had been in jail in early 2016 as the result of a conviction for driving while drunk, a fact Routson noted while sentencing him.
Houdeshell said in a prepared statement that while he has a prior record, none of the charges were violent.
His record includes a burglary in Allen County, a fourth-degree felony; 17 misdemeanor charges in two other states; a child endangering charge in Lima Municipal Court; and three prior felony convictions in Hancock County, said Colleen Limerick, Hancock County assistant prosecutor.
The Hancock County charges included possession of LSD, a fifth-degree felony; breaking and entering, a fifth-degree felony; and driving while drunk, a fourth-degree felony.
Limerick said Houdeshell attempted to obtain cocaine the night of the child’s death, according to text messages seized from his cellphone, although that evidence was not presented at his trial.
Breydon’s mother, Alisha Young, was in the courtroom Thursday but did not make a statement.
“I know after working with the victims this is an emotional day,” said Hancock County Assistant Prosector Steve Powell, who also worked on the case.
Houdeshell’s attorney, Adam Nemann, has said his client plans to appeal.