A Berkeley County jury deliberated 33 minutes Thursday before finding Roger Anthony Williams guilty of homicide by child abuse. Williams’ lawyer asked for a mistrial before he was sentenced because of the short length of deliberations, but Circuit Judge R. Markley Dennis refused.
The boy’s mother tried to speak at Williams’ sentencing, but she couldn’t stop crying. Although Williams apologized, Dennis gave him the maximum sentence, saying that calling Williams’ behavior toward his son indifferent was putting it mildly.
Williams admitted to putting his son into a barrel after he died in June 2010, filling it with concrete and taking it from Summerville to Orangeburg County. But he denied killing the boy, blaming his former girlfriend Grace Trotman for the child’s death. She pleaded guilty and testified for prosecutors. As part of her plea deal, she will be sentenced later.
Trotman originally told authorities nearly a month after Rodricus Williams, 2, was killed that the boy fell into the ocean at the Charleston Battery. But she later admitted that her boyfriend told her to tell that story and led investigators to his body
In closing statements, prosecutors reminded jurors of testimony that said Williams often hit his son because he would stand like a girl.
“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,” prosecutor Anne Williams said.
The key witness was Trotman, who testified that Roger Williams often hit his son and showed no emotion when a blow to the head led to the boy’s death. She said Williams wiped his son with peroxide to get rid of fingerprints, wrapped the body in trash bags and tape, and dropped the boy headfirst into a trash can he filled with concrete. The couple rented a truck and dumped the trash can in Bowman, Trotman testified.
Williams’ lawyer blamed Trotman for killing the boy. He reminded jurors during his closing statement that Trotman once told investigators her 2-year-old daughter pushed Rodricus Williams into the wall.
“She wants to blame anyone in this tragedy except herself,” James Falk said.