Jury finds Roger Williams guilty of homicide by child abuse

Roger Williams during a break in his homicide by child abuse trial Tuesday, October 9, 2012. Williams is charged in the death of his 2-year-old son Rodricus Williams.

MONCKS CORNER - Roger Anthony Williams was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for the death of his 2-year-old son Rodricus.

In sentencing Williams, Judge R. Markley Dennis echoed the prosecution’s statement about Williams’ indifference toward his son, saying that calling him indifferent was a gross understatement of his treatment of the boy.

Williams was also sentenced to 10 years for unlawful neglect of a child, to be served concurrently.

A jury found him guilty on both counts after deliberating for less than an hour.

The trial, which began on Monday in Moncks Corner, featured testimony from Grace Trotman, Williams’ ex-girlfriend. She pleaded guilty to homicide by child abuse in February.

She claimed she did “pop” the toddler before he died, causing him to hit his head on the wall, but she said Williams had hit the child many times before that. Trotman told the jury earlier this week Williams forbade her from calling an ambulance after the child was unresponsive.

Williams stuffed his dead son’s body into a trash can of cement in June 2010. In July 2010, he and Trotman concocted a plan to pretend to lose the child at The Battery in downtown Charleston, where Trotman was supposed to be handing over the child to his mother.

Trotman ended up telling investigators the story was a lie and showing them where the body was. She’ll be sentenced after this trial.

During closing remarks this morning, Williams’ attorney James Falk told the jury his client was not responsible for Rodricus’ death.

“I know none of you want to be friends with my client,” he said. “Now rest assured, my client will be punished for what he’s done regarding disposing of Rodricus’s body.”

Falk reminded the jury Williams admitted to disposing the body, but argued, the jury cannot use that to find him guilty of homicide by child abuse.

Grace Trotman is the one to blame, according to Falk. At one point she told investigators her 2-year-old daughter at the time, Yaya, had pushed Rodricus into the wall, he said.

“She wants to blame anyone in this tragedy except herself,” Falk said.

9th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Anne Williams told the jury during her closing remarks that Williams is the one on trial and talked about the alleged abuse of the child by his father. He told people he needed to “man-up” his son because he would stand like a girl, she said.

“He took a happy little boy with all of his little songs and he beat him down until in the end, he was just sitting there dazed,” Anne Williams said.

At the end of the prosecution’s closing remarks, a photo of Rodricus Williams was projected on the screen - smiling and appearing happy.

“This is what this case is about,” Anne Williams said. “Think about this little boy. Think about what his life was like and think about justice.”

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.