Case Update: Father of 6-Month-Old Adrien Decker Sentenced to Prison

Adrien Decker of Newark Ohio
Adrien Michael Wayne Decker.

Two years ago, I told you the story of a “loving and happy baby” named Adrien Michael Wayne Decker, whose family called him “Boss Baby.”

Adrien died on March 12, 2020. Initially, it was thought Adrien’s death was caused by his father, 18-year-old Michael Decker, who became frustrated with the baby’s crying early in the morning on March 10, 2020 and “roughly put the infant into a bouncing seat to the point that the baby hit its head.”

When Michael, Adrien’s mom, and their three-year-old son got up a few hours later, Adrien was unresponsive in his bouncy seat. After two days on life support, Adrien passed away surrounded by loving family and friends.

In death, Adrien became a tiny hero when his organs were donated to other children.

Michael W Decker mug shot Newark Ohio Police Department
Michael W. Decker
(Newark Police Department)

Michael Wayne Decker was arrested and charged with endangering children. In May of 2020, a grand jury in Licking County, Ohio indicted Michael on three felony counts of endangering children (two second-degree and one third-degree) and a single first-degree felony count of involuntary manslaughter.

As it turned out, the medical evidence in the case was complicated. After being reevaluated, the Franklin County Coroner’s Office ruled Adrien’s cause of death was undetermined, as was his manner of death. Defense experts say Adrien died from positional asphyxiation. There was no bleeding on Adrien’s brain, which would indicate shaken baby syndrome. Adrien had three healing rib fractures, but experts were not able to determine when those were inflicted and by whom. Neck or spine injuries could not be determined, although the prosecutor claimed Adrien had suffered a C3 injury. The baby also suffered from undiagnosed heart and kidney conditions.

In Licking County Common Pleas Court today, 20-year-old Michael Decker pleaded guilty to a single third-degree felony count of child endangering. The prosecutor’s office dismissed the other three charges against him. Judge David Branstool sentenced Michael to 24 months in prison for pleading guilty to failing to protect Adrien, giving him credit for the 443 days he spent in jail prior to his release in May of 2021. That leaves Michael with just under 290 remaining days to serve behind bars.

Michael Decker (left) with attorney Kort Gatterdam at Michael’s March 31, 2022 sentencing hearing.
(Ty Wright/The Newark Advocate)

Michael and Adrien’s mom, M.H., are still a couple and are currently expecting their third child, a girl.

This case is beyond tragic from all angles. Although it initially appeared to be a case of child abuse when I first covered it, I don’t believe Adrien’s death was necessarily the cause of abuse. Still, I felt this was an important update to share, and I’ll continue to help the family keep Adrien’s memory alive.

More details:

Newark man gets 24 months in prison in child endangering case (Newark Advocate)

Photos from Michael Decker’s sentencing hearing (Lancaster Eagle Gazette)

Sources: The Newark Advocate; the Lancaster Eagle Gazette; Licking County Common Pleas court portal

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