COLUMBIA, SC — After four days of testimony in his trial, a Richland County man pleaded guilty to the 2011 killing of a 17-month-old girl left in his care.
Antwan Gaddist, 35, was sentenced to 23 years in prison by Judge James Barber after pleading guilty to homicide by child abuse. Gaddist’s plea came after the prosecution rested its case, said Nicole Holland, a spokeswoman for the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s office. He will get credit for time served after being held in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center since his arrest in May 2011 by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
Gaddist was taking care of Kaitlynn Hill and her twin brother Kaleb Hill after their mother went to work. At some point, Gaddist became angry and frustrated and grabbed the little girl around her rib cage and shook her, prosecutors said in opening statements. He also beat her.
Gaddist originally told investigators that he found the child unconscious. He said he called Miesha Miller, the child’s mother, and then the mother called 911.
The family of Kaitlynn Hill said the trial was painful to endure, especially when they learned through testimony that the child’s injuries were more severe than they previously were told.
Robin Hill-Davidson, Kaitlynn’s aunt, said the family was relieved and pleased to have justice for Kaitlynn. The toddler’s mother, uncle and other relatives planned to visit her grave Friday afternoon, Hill-Davidson said.
“Her family will try to move on with closure now,” Hill-Davidson said.
Kaitlynn was full of energy and a go-getter, Hill-Davidson said. The little girl had a beautiful smile and pretty hair.
“She was the leader between her and Kaleb,” she said. “She would often grab him by the hand if he was crying or upset. She was like a little mother to him. They were very close.”
Kaleb Hill, who is now four, was not injured. Today, he is a happy little boy and is close to a cousin who is just eight days younger than he is, Hill-Davidson said.
“They act as if they are brother and sister,” she said .”I believe God sent Maegan to help ease the void because he knew Kaleb would need it one day.”
Hill-Davidson also said, “We thank everyone for their prayers, support and encouragement during the past 33 months since Kaitlynn was killed and especially during this trial. Regretfully, we can never bring Kaitlynn back, but we appreciate a job well done from the solicitors office, sheriffs department, EMS, fire department, medical personnel, coroners office and many others.”
The case was prosecuted by assistant solicitors Joanna McDuffie, Luck Campbell and Nicole Simpson.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.