Judge grants early prison release

A Marietta man sentenced to three years in prison for allowing a Beverly toddler to drown in the bath while under his care was granted an early release from prison Tuesday.

Joshua D. Sciance, 26, was sentenced in November to spend three years in prison, the maximum charge on a third-degree felony count of child endangerment.

At the time of his sentencing, Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider had recommended a six-month jail sentence for Sciance and said he would not oppose judicial release in the event Sciance was sentenced to prison.

He upheld that statement Tuesday and did not oppose Sciance’s judicial release nine months into his three-year sentence.

Though criminally irresponsible, Sciance’s act was an accident, noted Schneider.

“My thought was if he sat in jail six months, it would give him some time to think about what he did. If he wasn’t going to learn anything in six months, he wasn’t going to learn,” said Schneider.

Sciance had reportedly consumed several alcoholic beverages on March 18, 2013 when he left 23-month old Connar Hilton alone in a bathtub with his 3-year-old sister for approximately 20 minutes. He was the boyfriend of the children’s mother.

Sciance tried to revive Hilton after finding him in the water. However, the toddler died the next day at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

Sciance’s attorney, Ray Smith, said at sentencing that a pattern of alcohol abuse on Sciance’s part was related to the event.

Though Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane agreed Tuesday to grant early judicial release, Sciance will not immediately be released from custody.

“It’s my intention you’re going to remain in the (Washington) County Jail and take the first available bed at SEPTA,” said Lane.

Sciance’s alcohol problem will be addressed there. He will then be required to participate in “Thinking for a Change,” the court’s cognitive behavioral change program. He will also be required to report to L&P Services for further counseling within two weeks of his release from SEPTA, said Lane.

Lane also sentenced Sciance to five years of community control and warned him that even minor violations could land him back in prison to complete the three-year term.

“You’ve had a lot of tragedies in your life and I wish you the best. But it’s up to you to overcome it,” Lane told Sciance,

Sciance, in turn, thanked Lane before being remanded into local custody.