By Sam Wildow
MIAMI COUNTY — A Bradford man found guilty of causing the death of a one-year-old child was sentenced to 18 years in prison and fined over $42,000 on Friday afternoon in Miami County Common Pleas Court.
Joshua A. Mize, 30, of Bradford, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony involuntary manslaughter in April in connection with the death of Caelyn Colon, a one-year-old child of Bradford. Colon would have turned two years old this month if she was still alive, according to Common Pleas Court Judge Jeannine Pratt.
Mize’s plea was part of an agreement with prosecutors, which included the dismissal of the previous murder indictment against him. Mize also pleaded guilty to other charges of second-degree felony child endangering, third-degree felony obstructing justice, third-degree felony tampering with evidence, and fifth-degree felony theft.
Following the sentencing hearing, Miami County Prosecuting Attorney Anthony Kendell addressed the plea agreement and the reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter, releasing a statement explaining the prosecution of this case “developed unforeseen risks as it progressed.”
“The Montgomery County Deputy Coroner who conducted the autopsy changed his opinion with respect to the cause of death from homicide to accidental death,” Kendell said. “This change was not, at any time, supported by the Montgomery County elected Coroner. The unprecedented change of opinion severely undermined certain elements of the case.”
Kendell went on to say he weighed the risks of going to trial versus coming to a plea agreement.
“I weighed what would best serve the victim, her family, and the public. The risk of defendant Mize going unpunished as the result of an expert witness providing two separate, contradicting opinions was, in my judgment, unacceptable. To ensure the killer was punished for his actions, I accepted a plea to a lesser charge. I trust the public will understand this was not a decision I made lightly,” Kendell said. Kendell previously stated he has “always made it a priority to seek maximum penalties against those that victimize children.”
Pratt, during the sentencing hearing, expressed difficulty over her decision for the sentence. As part of the plea agreement, the prosecutors’ recommendation was originally for a prison term of a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 18 years. Pratt said she “lost sleep” over the decision, saying she regarded plea agreements and prosecutors’ recommendations with “tremendous respect.” She also briefly commented on the change of the charge, explaining prosecutors have more knowledge of the investigation and how they have to evaluate “possible outcomes and evidentiary issues.”
“Nothing is guaranteed by a trial,” Pratt said.
Pratt later explained the court would give Mize consecutive sentences in order to protect the public and hold Mize accountable, addressing Mize when she said, “Your actions were just plain evil.”
For the purposes of sentencing, the charges of involuntary manslaughter and child endangering merged, so the largest portion of his prison sentence came from the involuntary manslaughter charge and he was not sentenced separately for the child endangering charge. Mize was sentenced separately, though, for the charges of obstructing, tampering, and theft, and he received consecutive sentences for those charges.
The breakdown of Mize’s sentence included a minimum of 11 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter, 36 months for obstructing justice, 36 months for tampering with evidence, and 12 months for theft. All of the sentences are consecutive to one another for an aggregate minimum sentence of at least 18 years in prison and a maximum term of 23.5 years.
Mize also received a fine of $20,000 for involuntary manslaughter; fines of $10,000 for obstructing justice and tampering; and a fine of $2,500 for theft.
Mize is eligible to reduce his time spent in prison by 5-15% if he qualifies for good time credit through the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The court also has the option to deny Mize that good time credit.
During Friday’s hearing, family members of the victim filled the courtroom. Two family members read victim impact statements in court, while many others submitted written victim impact statements to the court.
“Evil does exist in this world,” one family member said, later referencing abuse that allegedly took place in the home. “Don’t let Caelyn’s death be in vein … He (Mize) is a danger to all children and women.”
Another family member spoke of how Colon, the victim, was born premature during the pandemic, spending 22 days in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
“She was little, but she was the sweetest little girl,” she said. She spoke of the impact on the family and how their lives have changed since Colon’s death.
Later in the hearing, Pratt also went over Mize’s criminal history, saying that Mize has a history of violence and drug abuse. She stated he was on active post-release control, also referred to as parole, during this incident as he had been released from prison in May 2021 after being found guilty of felony trafficking cocaine in another county. He also received eight infractions during his time in prison for that charge.
Mize at first declined to speak on his behalf in court before later saying, “It’s a tragedy.”
Mize was first arrested in September 2021. On Sept. 13, Bradford Fire and Rescue responded to the 100 block of East Vine Street in the village of Bradford on the report of a one-year-old child not breathing. The child was resuscitated and transported to Upper Valley Medical Center. Later, the child was transferred to Dayton Children’s Hospital.
According to the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, a criminal investigation was initiated by Miami County Sheriff’s detectives due to doctors concluding that the injuries present on the child were from suspected abuse. The child, Colon, died at Dayton Children’s Hospital on Sept. 14.
Mize received a jail credit of 234 days.