About 14 months after Little Rock police found a battered 3-year-old boy left alone in a clothes hamper inside a closet in his mother’s apartment, the woman’s parolee boyfriend was sentenced Monday to follow her to prison.
Carl Robert Ridder, a 34-year-old father of two, pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree domestic battering for inflicting “serious physical injury” on the toddler in March 2016, deputy prosecutor Erin Driver said.
Under the plea arrangement negotiated by attorney Joey Joslin, Ridder accepted an 18-year prison term from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herb Wright.
The boy’s mother, Rebecca Ann Gaston, 30, formerly of Conway pleaded no contest in December to permitting child abuse. She received a five-year prison sentence conditioned upon her testifying against Ridder. Prison records show she can apply for parole next month. She had faced up to 20 years.
Court records show Gaston admitted to trying to cover up what Ridder had done when she was arrested. She told detectives that she was present when Ridder beat the boy after the child accidentally urinated on Ridder’s leg while trying to use the toilet at the apartment the couple shared at the Ridgecrest Apartments, 1900 Reservoir Road.
Gaston was not immediately forthcoming with police, court records show. Officers Kevin Ward and Nathan Herpin were at the apartments March 10, 2016, to investigate an anonymous tip about a disturbance involving a child at the apartment.
No one was home, but the officers learned from a neighbor that the tenants had left on foot.
Ward and Herpin searched the area and located Gaston and Ridder about a quarter-mile away walking with Gaston’s toddler daughter. The little girl was “healthy and happy,” while Ridder told officers that he was just a friend walking a mother and daughter to the store. He told Gaston he’d meet