David Carroll Jr. will spend at least 16 years in prison for the death of three-year old foster son Marcus Fiesel.
The plea bargain that Carroll agreed to, and Clermont County Judge Jerry McBride accepted in court Feb. 27, stipulated that in exchange for a guilty plea for murder and gross abuse of a corpse, all other charges against Carroll in Hamilton and Clermont Counties will be dropped.
The charges in Clermont that were dropped as a part of the plea bargain included kidnapping, involuntary manslaughter, felony assault, and three counts of child endangerment.
By law, Carroll was required to withdraw his prior not guilty pleas to the judge and accept full responsibility for the death of his foster child before the judge handed down his sentence.
The sentence for David Carroll is considerably less than that of wife Liz Carroll, who was convicted on all charges by a jury last week and sentenced to 54 years in prison for her role in the death of Marcus Fiesel.
Before McBride would accept the guilty pleas, Clermont County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Breyer had to give explanations or reasons as to why the judge should accept the pleas and consider the plea bargain as justice served.
Citing the extensive media coverage of the events surrounding the death of Marcus, and the subsequent trial coverage of Liz Carroll, Breyer stated that finding an impartial jury to hear the case would be difficult. He further said that a plea bargain and immediate sentencing was the best way to resolve the case and that it was in the best interest of the community.
It should be noted that the exact same deal was offered to Liz Carroll; she chose to decline the offered plea bargain and instead took her chances with a jury trial.
At the plea bargain hearing, David Carroll admitted his guilt in the death of Marcus, but implicated Amy Baker in the death, saying that her involvement was "more than anyone will ever know."
"I was present when Marcus was taped and wrapped in a blanket," a stoic David Carroll told the judge before sentencing. "Amy Baker and myself were there. We left him there but had no idea that any of this was going to happen. When we came back, he was gone."
Carroll told the judge said that it was Amy Baker who bound up Marcus.
Finding Marcus dead in the closet upon their return from the family reunion, Carroll said that he wanted to call the police, but failed to do so out of fear.
"Amy Baker said don't call the cops. She threatened us with her family, meaning that her family would take care of our family."
David Carroll understood that to be a threat to the their lives and he was afraid for his family's lives, he said.
David Carroll said that Amy Baker came up with the story of Marcus going missing and that he and Amy went to dispose of the body in that now infamous chimney in Brown County.
At this point, David Carroll showed emotion, sorrow, and regret, and needed a moment to compose himself before continuing.
"We (Amy Baker and I) burned the body," he said. "We put the remains in a pillowcase and threw them into the Ohio River."
At this point, Judge McBride, convinced that Carroll had told him the truth and had voluntarily agreed to the plea bargain, handed down the aforementioned sentence.
Before sentencing, defense attorney Cathy Adams said that Carroll has suffered from bipolar disease for some time and that at the time when all of these events took place, he was not on his medication.
Although not excusing or condoning her client's role in the tragic events surrounding the death of Marcus, Adams pointed out that Carroll has greatly suffered.
"David Carroll loves his children," Adams said. "And he loved Marcus. The problem that he was faced with, in agreeing to this plea today, was coming to grips with admitting what had happened. It is a difficult thing to stand up in front of the community and say yes, this is what happened."
Adams said that Carroll was upset about things that did not come to light (but should have) during the trial of his wife Liz Carroll. Adams also said that he was influenced by the fact that the prosecution intended to use his own seven-year old son to testify against him in his murder trail.
Adams asserted that David Carroll felt that this would scar his son for the rest of his life and create yet another victim in this case.
"So you see, he is human, your honor, he is not a monster," Adams said. "He is a human being that is flawed. He made serious, serious errors that all of us hope that we will never make. And he has prayed a price. He has lost his children, he has lost his wife, and he has lost his freedom."
Before being escorted away to begin serving his sentence, Carroll read one final emotional statement to the court.
"I want to say that I am very sorry for the loss of Marcus. I am sorry for the stress and heartache that I have caused my children and my family. I would also like to apologize to this community and the public for all the drama and for lying about the disappearance of Marcus. The reason that this was such a hard decision for me was mostly because of Amy Baker. She was so much more involved than anyone would or could imagine or know, and she is walking free today. I love my children with all my heart and would never do anything intentionally to harm or traumatize them in any way. Today, I accept responsibility for my role in all that happened in this tragedy. Marcus was a sweet and loving child who did not deserve this and he will be missed dearly.
Carroll concluded his brief remarks by saying that he keeps Marcus in his prayers every day and hopes that the community will do the same.
There are plans in the works to build a memorial to Marcus in the Anderson Township Park where Liz Carroll first claimed he went missing Aug.15.
Amy Baker has not been charged in this case. She was granted immunity from prosecution by prosecutors in exchange for her testimony.