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Posted on Wed, May 8, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Man convicted of torturing boy maintains innocence in emotional courtroom outburst

By John Counts

The 22-year-old Superior Township man who will spend 31 to 65 years in prison for putting a child in a scalding bath asked prosecutors why they blamed him in an emotionally charged outburst at his sentencing.

"What do you want to prosecute me for?” Harvey Wince yelled at Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Blake Hatlem April 29. “I’m a good man. What are you all prosecuting me for? This ain’t right!” obtained a video of the sentencing via a request at the Washtenaw County Trial Court.

Wince had to be restrained by sheriff deputies behind the lectern as he lunged at Hatlem, sitting at the prosecutor's table a few feet away. Family and friends of Wince also shrieked and openly wept in court as Judge Darlene O'Brien read off the sentencing.

The outburst started soon after O'Brien read off the stiffest sentence, 380 months to 65 years for one count of torture. Wince was convicted by a jury of torture, first-degree child abuse and resisting arrest.

As O'Brien reaches the sentence for the child abuse count, a woman is heard crying in the court and Wince behind struggling with the deputies, who hauled the screaming man out of the courtroom.

Sentencing had to be resumed about three hours later.

The outburst followed arguments by both the defense and the prosecution about sentencing guidelines, the scoring of which could have affected Wince's prison time.


Harvey Wince

Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office

James Fifelski, Wince's attorney, asked O'Brien to sentence his client at the bottom of the guidelines.

“I think there was evidentiary support that this was an accidental burn,” he said.“A bottom of the guideline sentence will serve all the interests of sentencing."

Fifelski said there was also character testimony at the trial that the judge should consider. This was the second time Wince was tried. The first trial resulted in a hung jury. A second jury convicted Wince of the charges March 21.

Hatlem argued Wince should be sentenced at the top of the guidelines because of the severity of the injuries. The 3-year-old boy Wince was babysitting for suffered a laceration of his liver, a bite mark and burns on 18 percent of his body. A jury convicted Wince of putting the boy in scalding hot bath water at Wince's townhouse in the 8900 block of MacArthur Boulevard in Superior Township on April 1, 2012.

“Those obviously qualify as excessive brutality,” Hatlem said about the injuries. “Let’s make sure he doesn’t do it again. I think the fact that there is no rationale for this level of brutality and assault on a child should give this court serious pause when deciding how to treat the defendant. The lack of an explanation … I think requires this court to sentence him at the top of the guidelines.”

Wince also had a chance to speak before the sentence was passed.

“I took care of my niece and my nephews since they (were) kids,” he said. “I never hurt them. Prosecutor is saying that I hurt kids. I never hurt a kid. He’s saying that this is an example to set on an innocent man even though I got found guilty by a jury, but that don’t mean I did it."

Wince told police he put the boy in the bathtub, in ankle-deep water that was lukewarm, while he went to play a video game. Wince said he returned to the bathroom later and found the boy standing in the bathroom with “soggy” skin. He said the boy turned the hot water on himself.

“Your Honor, I’m asking you to give me leniency and mercy because I’m not a bad man,” he continued. “I’m a good person.”

O'Brien chose not to sentence Wince at the bottom of the guidelines.

“The jury didn’t believe your defense and the child’s injuries were devastating,” she told Wince.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Mr. Ann Arbor

Fri, May 10, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

Feel bad for everyone involved. Jim's a great attorney, and his client shouldn't have got 30+ years for this. Especially when you see the other penalties for crimes given out through the Circuit Court. This judge may have Schwartz beat by a mile.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 6:11 a.m.

Jim's "client" admits he bit a 3year old child, the child's liver was lacerated by blunt force trauma. The child was burned so badly is skin was falling off! And you don't think the criminal should have gotten a 30+ year sentence??? Are you kidding me?????? Unbelievable !!!! Sick! Sick! Sick!


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

Agreed on point number one. Not points number two and three.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

30 years is ridiculous, First lets say he is guilty just for conversation sake. 30 years does not match the crime, there are murders who serve 17 or less. How many DUI, murders happen and they get less than 30 years. This is wrong, again , under the assumption that he is guilty. The Judge is out of line and the prosecuter, just wanted another notch on his belt. That is not JUSTICE, and no I don't like child abuse. The time doesn't add up to the crime. I will say is it because he is black, is it because he is poor. There have been many non-colored abuse out there with broken bones and multiple, that adults did not get 30 years or more.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 1:48 a.m.

So the sentence was based on race. That is a novel theory. If the guy showed an ounce of remorse for what happened to he child and not continue to claim his innocence, then maybe he deserved a lighter sentence. A chid is damaged for life and this guy deserves to be in prison for a long time. And before you call me a racist, I will say that if the the guy was white, Hispanic, or Asian, I would say thye deserved the exact same sentence.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

torture or assault thats the question man could get 15 years another could get 2 years for beating someone badly. very controversial.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

so put baby in hot water to burn it.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

With good behavior, Wince will be free in 2044. By that time the suit he's wearing in the video probably won't fit anymore and will have to be replaced.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 10:52 a.m.

I was on the 2nd jury for this case. It was very difficult. It has taught me that there is probably always more to these things than meets the eye, or finds its way into the press. I believe, in the end, that justice was done, but the whole thing is tragic beyond words.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 9:47 p.m.

Washtenaw County is really light on sentencing, ha ha ha.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

Thank goodness we don't allow civilians to bring guns into the courtroom. What an intense conclusion and a justified sentence!


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

That outburst didn't lead me see him as a wrongly accused good man, it made me see him as an angry man who refuses to take responsibility for what he did and has no remorse.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

Please, if you were innocent, you would behave the same way. I know I would.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

Not like that, I would know that an angry outburst in court wouldn't help me in the least or be even slightly productive. I've had someone accuse me of ridiculous and insulting things and tell flat-out lies about me in court and an angry outburst like that was definitely not my response. Reguardless, based on the evidence of what was done to the child, what I see as ridiculous excuses, especially the one that a two year old and four year old actually caused the head to toe bruising and lacerated liver, and the fact that burning with water is not an uncommon form of child abuse, I am lead to conclude that this man isn't able to control his anger and feels no responsibility or remorse for what he did. Which makes him all the more dangerous. Also, if the damage done to the child was accidental or caused by other children, why didn't he take him to a hospital, call an ambulance, or at least call the mother. If there was a fight between the 3 year old victim and a two year old and a 4 year old at a park, wouldn't there have been other witnesses?


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 9:48 p.m.

How would you react if you believed you were found wrongly convicted ? I know I would be upset.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

Thank you for the courtroom footage. Interesting to note how the pastor was useful in calming the crowd.

John Counts

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

Thanks KateT. I thought so too.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

It also bugs me that this same system is letting people off with far far less time for attempted murder and armed robbery.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

hurting a child does not derserve anything less than this


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

Yeah, justice sure doesn't seem like its "blind", it really matters who you are vs what you did.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

Why was there a hung jury? Did one of the juries get it wrong? Was there problems in the prosecutors case? Were the juries from the same pool?

Katie Anne

Thu, May 9, 2013 : 2:59 a.m.

Hung jury means that no verdict could be agreed upon. The second jury was a "guilty" verdict. A re-trial has a new jury. So this was completely separate.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

I have no sympathy. He got off easy for torturing a child.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

life in prison is getting off lightly ? Oh yeah, he might "only" be 75 years old when he is released,.

John Counts

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

This previous story, linked in the story above as well, goes into much more detail about what happened at Wince's apartment that day and night:


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

John, Thanks for the link to the other article. A three year old boy, burned to that matter would have cried loudly for sure while in the tub. Additionally, one should be able to suspect the child ---if not restrained in some matter--- he would have crawled or jumped out of the tub. Noting the information supplied in the other article, it appears the sentence fits the crime committed. I hope the young child was able to fully heal from his injuries.

Mi resident

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

WOW! That is much more detail and very very sad.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

From the article that someone linked earlier... "The investigation revealed he intentionally placed the boy in scalding hot bath water that evening, causing severe burns, according to the sheriff's office. Investigators estimate the water was 120-125 degrees and the burns were consistent with the boy being held in the water for at least a minute. Investigators also determined that while under Wince's care this day, the boy suffered significant bruising from head to toe and a lacerated liver due to blunt force trauma. Bite marks were found on his arm and Wince did admit to the biting." I think this explains the reason for the sentencing.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

Bite marks, burns and video games do not make a good babysitter.


Fri, May 10, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

don't forget to throw in the lacerated liver, fluid in his abdomen and blood in his urine....

Mr. Ed

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

No respect for the court!!

Linda Peck

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

I give high praise to Judge O'Brien for her sentencing in this case, and for her demeanor.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

Luke warm water, I beleive Wince may have thought it was luke warm but never tested it himself, like put his hand at the bottom of the tub for a couple off minutes. A three year old I beleive would be screaming it is hot as he is being placed in the tub also. Small children "must be attended" at all times, why is that so hard for people to understand? Now, Mr Wince will have a long time to think about how important that video game was.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 2:56 a.m.

I could also slip in the bathtub and hit my head, it doesn't mean I need supervision.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

An older child who is capable of sitting and standing-up could easily slip and hit their heads in most tubs (it's happened). And, young children who find themselves conscious and face-down in water, even water that they can stand or sit-up in, don't always know what to do. But, that isn't really relevant to this case considering where the boy's burns were.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

The cases I'm finding on Google are all talking about infants. That's a different case than a 3-year-old, unless my kids were super-human at age 3. In a few inches of water (not enough to drown in), 3-year-olds are perfectly safe in a bathtub. If they made the mistake of turning on hot water, they could easily get out all on their own. That said, nobody should fall asleep or go out of earshot (you should be able to hear what your kid is saying, and be able to hear if the faucet is turned on). And playing video games would certainly denote total neglect.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

Sorry, I do not know anything about her or that case, but it proves my point about small chidren never being left alone.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

What about the woman, who a few years back, her two young children drowned in the tub while she fell asleep in the next room. She's STILL walking around.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

"The 3-year-old boy Wince was babysitting for suffered a laceration of his liver, a bite mark and burns on 18 percent of his body." The bite mark is the most disturbing. Someone who would BITE a child to inflict harm has SEVERE mental issues...none of them positive...

Mi resident

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

I bet the kid was crying a lot harder than this guy was as he was getting burned..


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

This is as real as it gets. Part of me almost hates that this can be viewed on live media, guilty or not.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

i agree. I am a social worker, so this kind of raw emotion and brutality are not new to me, but I think that seeing this in "real time" is very chilling.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

Can anyone tell me how a person can have his liver lacerated? Can someone explain?


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

I think that a blow to the abdomen can do it. The focus of the articles has been on the bathtub scalding, but it sounds as if there was evidence that he was responsible for the other injuries as well -- that would explain the torture conviction.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

Yes, please. The bite mark and liver injuries sound unrelated to the burn incident. If so, that seems to be a pattern of abuse. If not, how exactly does hot water lead to bite marks and a lacerated liver. Was the cause for the other injuries ever explained or asked?

Mr. Ed

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Ask Wence, he's at the Washtenaw County Jail.

Shi Schultz

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

LETS NOT FORGET "Wince told police he put the boy in the bathtub, in ankle-deep water that was lukewarm, while he went to play a video game."


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

doesn't make him an abuser in that moment, it makes him stupid.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 11:34 a.m.

You do not leave a 3 year old child in a bathtub alone while you go to play video games. The other injuries to this child sealed the fate of this man. Earlier articles on the case convinced me that he deserved the prosecution he got.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

Oops. Meant to vote that up not down


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

At first I didn't think Wince intended to hurt the boy, but this is the first I've heard of the bite mark and the lacerated liver.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

lisam - Thank you for a link that gives more useful info! If it was just the hot water, it's conceivable it was due to simple negligence. But he admitted to biting a child and now claims he's "never" hurt a child? What exactly does he think biting does?


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

Here is a link to an article where he admitted the biting.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

See that part there removed all doubt that this was accidental... I mean ALL doubt...


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.

Kudos to Judge O'Brien for keeping a cool, calm demeanor during the chaos that erupted!

Basic Bob

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 10:49 a.m.

Hot water heaters are factory-set to 120 degrees, which is unlikely to scald even a small child. Sometimes people adjust it so they can get nice hot showers in the winter. It's best just to leave it at the standard setting.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

Also, from the articles, it sounds like the burns were limited to the child's 'sock' areas and the lower extremities of his body that would have been exposed to the water while sitting in it. The convicted man said he put the child in ankle deep lukewarm water. If, after leaving the child alone in the 'lukewarm' water the child then turned on the hot water faucet well, in most houses, even when the the hot water has been run recently, it takes a little while for that water to actually come out hot. And, if the water was 'lukewarm' instead of already hot, it would have taken even longer for the water in the tub to really be too hot. So, if the burns were the result of the child turning on the hot water faucet himself, the water level likely would have been higher than it actually was when the child was burned.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

The article also said that the child would have had to be held down in the water for about a minute for the injuries he had to occur. If a child is experiencing the pain of burning they would most likely scream or yell out in pain.

Gyll Stanford

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 10:01 p.m.

As a building contractor and landlord I'll tell you the setting on a water heater should be set at very little over 100 degrees, tested at the faucet. Our body temperature is 98.6 degrees and anything above that "feels" warm or hot. You set it at 105 and you could be injured. I've had tenants complain of this very problem.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

I just stuck my instant read Taylor thermometer in a stream of hot water from our kitchen faucet. At it's highest read it was 112 degrees F. It felt scalding hot to me and I would not venture to put my hand under that stream at all. I could see it causing a burn on me, let alone a child or elderly person. Basic Bob, you should test out your theory before saying it is "unlikely to scald even a small child".

Jim Osborn

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

" people adjust it so they can get nice hot showers in the winter" because their pipes are uninsulated and quickly cool the water down. Most older homes suffer from this and while you can insulate the basement pipes, it is hard to do the ones in the walls. 120 is a very reasonable balance between safety and comfort. Just never leave a small child alone in a bath tub or shower

Jim Osborn

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Get real! You cannot set a hot water heater to body temp, 100 deg F and then expect it to still be at that temp when it reaches the tap. Even if it were at 100 degrees at the tap, it still would be considered lukewarm by all. Even 110 degrees is tepid at best. Public spas settings of about 103 or so. have small children sitting in them for long periods. In Germany, you can have a high setting, but to get hot water from a shower or bath tap, only an adult can turn the knob past a certain point, a small child cannot. A great safety feature, better than "100 degrees" which will not work for most.


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

Bob, The thinner skin of young children can incur a full-thickness burn (3rd degree) after only 5 minutes in water that is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If there is a child in the house the best setting for a water heater is 100 degrees. More children are scalded by tipping over a hot bowl of soup or a parent's cup of coffee from a table onto themselves or, in the case of older children, removing a hot liquid from a microwave that is placed higher than a child is tall. Children are curious and move quickly to reach for things that can seriously harm them. Adults who consciously make the effort to place anything hot out of the reach of a child and not leave a child unattended (even for a second) can prevent devestating scald and other burns from scarring a child for life. It only takes 1 to 2 seconds for the type of burns this poor child suffered when a toddler tips a hot cup of tea on his face from a countertop. That's our child safety tip for the day.