PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP)– An Ohio jury has convicted a couple of multiple charges in the death of their infant son whose body was found in a well.
Jessica Groves, 39, of Otway in southern Ohio’s Scioto County, was sentenced late Friday to life in prison with no chance of parole in the death of 2-month-old Dylan Groves. A jury deliberated for several hours Friday afternoon before finding her guilty of aggravated murder, abuse of a corpse and other charges.
The child’s father, Daniel Groves, 41, was convicted of murder, abuse of a corpse and other charges but was acquitted of aggravated murder. A judge sentence him to life in prison with parole eligibility in 47 years.
Their attorneys said Saturday that appeals are planned. Both said they respected the jury’s decision.
Daniel Groves testified during cross-examination Friday that his wife aggressively picked up Dylan from his crib in late March. He said he saw her hit the child in the head multiple times. A coroner testified at trial that Dylan suffered skull fractures, broken ribs, a broken arm and a broken shin bone.
“The path of drug abuse led to this,” Jessica Groves’ attorney, Robert Stratton said in an interview. “That’s not an excuse, but the one defining change in her life was drug use. It’s why she went from a loving supportive mother of a 14-year-old to a convicted murderer of her second child.”
Scioto County Children Services took formal custody of Dylan after he tested positive for methamphetamine at birth in January 2019 and was then placed with his father. Jessica Groves, a former licensed practical nurse, was allowed to visit the family’s home but was not permitted to live there.
Dylan was killed in late March during a visit, Jessica Groves testified. The infant’s body was not found until June. That’s when Daniel Groves told authorities that he and his wife had placed the body in a makeshift coffin and left it in a well in a field across the road from a church camp in Otway, roughly 85 miles east of downtown Cincinnati.
Authorities opened an investigation after the couple missed a custody hearing, failed to show up for Dylan’s medical appointments and a county case worker was unable to make a home visit. State officials later determined that Scioto County Children Services mishandled Dylan’s case and didn’t follow required procedures
According to the Portsmouth Daily Times, Daniel Groves declined to give a statement before sentencing. Jessica Groves did, saying, “No matter what you do to me, I have to live with this every day for the rest of my life. I’m sorry. I have failed as a mother.”