MEDINA — The Lodi man charged in the death of his 6-month-old daughter pleaded not guilty to one count of endangering children, a third-degree felony, Thursday morning.
Christopher L. Stewart, 22, responded “yes” when Medina County Common Pleas Judge Joyce V. Kimbler asked him if he understood the charge against him.
Defense attorney Kristopher Aupperle said his client wished to “enter a non-guilty plea at this time and ask that bond be continued.”
“Based upon the statement of your counsel, I will accept your plea of not guilty,” Kimbler said.
Stewart, 8100 block of Harris Road, was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on the felony count. He is free on a recognizance bond.
Officers responded to a call at about 2:15 p.m. July 14 about an infant in a vehicle at Ray Mellert Park, 331 N. Huntington St., according to a news release from Medina police.
Police Chief Ed Kinney said Thursday the infant was in the car between two and 2 ½ hours before being discovered.
Kinney said Stewart and his father attended a baseball game and he believes Stewart was there as a coach.
No charges have been filed against the grandfather.
“The grandfather, while he operated the car, he didn’t have a legal duty to the child, whereas the biological father does,” Medina County Prosecutor S. Forrest Thompson said Thursday afternoon. “I don’t anticipate charges being brought.”
Bystanders were administrating first aid to the unresponsive infant when officers arrived, according to the release.
The infant was transported to the Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The preliminary cause of death is heat-related, the release said.
Temperatures hovered near 90 degrees that day, according to the National weather Service.
Kimbler scheduled a final pretrial hearing for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 15 and a jury trial for 9 a.m. Oct. 29.