Wednesday, February 22 2012 7:41 AM EST2012-02-22 12:41:39 GMT
It's been nearly 2 years since police found 2-year-old Rodricus Williams' body stuffed in a trash can under a block of cement. Now, Grace Trotman, the boy's father's girlfriend, has pled guilty to his homicide by child abuse and neglect, and desecration of human remains.More >>
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Testimony resumed in the murder case against Roger Williams, accused of killing his 2-year-old son, Rodricus, putting the boy's body in a trash can, and filling it with concrete.
The defendant's girlfriend, Grace Trotman, took the stand on Tuesday and told the jury that Williams abused Rodricus "every chance he got." She also testified on how the boy died and how they hid the body, concocting a phony missing person's report when the boy's mother came to pick him up thinking he was still alive.
That report launched a wide-scale search that spanned two days.
On Wednesday, the first to take the stand was a former neighbor of Williams and Trotman, then a friend of Trotman's, Avis Clark.
Clark testified Williams would spank and cuss at 2-year-old Rodricus, calling him a gay slur.
Next to take the stand was an inmate, Ishmail Rivers. He's currently in jail in Georgetown.
Rivers says he spent time in jail with Williams in Berkeley County. At that time Rivers claims Williams told him his son swallowed an ecstasy pill that he had found on the floor. Williams allegedly said the pill stopped the boy's heart and that he put his body in the trash can soon after.
Another neighbor of Trotman and Williams said "Rodricus had a 'goose egg' mark on his forehead..and a black eye," and accused Trotman's daughter of being aggressive towards her daughter.
The next witness was Trotman's older sister, Ramona Smith. Smith said she saw Rodricus in his room at Williams' home, laying on the floor alone. She said he was sweating because the room had no air conditioning.
Next they played a recording of a phone call made between Williams and Trotman's sister when he was in jail. You can hear Williams admit to 'popping' Rodricus in chest, giving him a bruise.
The jury also heard Williams on the recording say he was"spooked" by Rodricus' death and that's why he didn't call 911. He also claims he tried CPR on the boy. In the recording, Williams shows concern about police seeing the bruises on Rodricus' body.
A forensic pathologist took the stand next. The doctor says he was the one to perform the autopsy on the toddler. He told the jury it was "the longest one I ever did." He told the jury how he had to remove the body from the concrete before finding a blunt force trauma on the boy's scalp.
The doctor said the injuries on the boy's head was "consistent with a significant head trauma," and wasn't just a "bump on the head." He also said the head injury was comparable to sports injuries, repeated over a short period of time.
The doctor also testified that Rodricus died sometime in June 2010. He said he could not determine a specific source of wounds because of the condition of the body. He also said that there were no drugs found in the toddler's system.
"I cant rule out asphyxia as contributing to boys death," he said. "I can't say it was a cause either, due to the condition of the body."
After a brief recess, a pathologist from Georgia took the stand for the defense. She worked at MUSC and in Charleston County previously as a chief medical examiner. The pathologist discussed 'second impact syndrome' saying Rodricus' initial injuries to the head may have made later, less severe injuries to his head fatal.
Though she was a witness for the defense, the pathologist said she 'agrees with' the autopsy testimony given by the MUSC doctor.
A pediatrician and expert on child abuse took the stand next. She analyzed this case and Rodricus' medical history. She testified that the boy's cause of death was due to repeated head injuries which led to his eventual collapse.
She said the head injuries also contributed to symptoms including seizures and lack of consciousness. His brain, however, was too decomposed to be analyzed in autopsy.
The doctor said the child had multiple head injuries and that the "head can swell up and cause death" after multiple hits.
Defense attorneys then questioned whether she could determine if the source of the child's fatal head injuries were from a female or male caregiver. She said her analysis is based on the child's history of injuries.
Next on the stand was Russell Minter, an acquaintance of Roger Williams. Minter told the court that Williams had asked him for a ride to Lowe's so that he could buy concrete.
The prosecution showed surveillance tape of Minter and Williams together at Lowe's. That video shows Williams buying concrete and a trash can.
Minter said "Williams wanted fast-drying concrete...I was told he was using it to build a patio."
Minter also told the court that Williams wanted him to testify that the defendant was "not abusive with his kids."
Berkeley County Detective Bobby Shuler was the next to testify. The prosecution played a tape of their interview with Williams. That interview was conducted around the time of discovery of Rodricus' body.
On the recording, Williams described what sounded like an episode where Rodricus had a seizure. He than described several episodes of the child having seizures. Williams says he was at work during one episode. He came home and found Rodricus child on the floor.
Williams said on the tape that the "child wasn't breathing. I got scared." Williams is also heard talking to Trotman about what they should do with the toddler. Williams explained to the detective he thought Rodricus was dead and how it was his plan to discard of the child's body in the cement-filled trash can.
Williams says on the tape: "I was at work when Rodricus died. It had to be a natural death."
Rodricus' mother, Shaneka Washington is in courtroom. Listening to the tape, she is visibly upset and emotional.
Williams talked about dumping the child's body in a body of water, like a pond, before deciding to put it in woods. He also said the child was encased in cement, in the trash can, for a couple of days while still at the home he shared with Trotman.
He said to Grace Trotman: "Maybe we could get away with something."
Williams' attorney asked the judge if his client could 'sleep on' his decision whether or not to testify. The judge denied that request.
The jury was dismissed for a short break and left the courtroom. In their absence, the judge had a few words for the defense.
He told Williams and his attorney that he "never heard of such extreme disregard for life."
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