A Lexington County man was found guilty in the death of his girl friend’s son after experts said the toddler had defensive wounds and other signs of ongoing abuse, officials said Monday.
A jury found Joshua Warren Hopkins, 29, guilty of homicide by child abuse and aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse in the death of 2-year-old Tayshun “Tae” Swearington, according to a news release from Solicitor Donnie Myers’ office.
Judge Knox McMahon sentenced Hopkins to life in prison.
Hopkins was living with the child’s mother, Sabrina Haynes, when the child was killed on Nov. 27, 2013, 13 days before his third birthday.
Haynes also faces charges of homicide by child abuse and aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse. The three lived in the Springdale area.
A family acquaintance reported suspected abuse, including bruises on the child, to the county Department of Social Services two weeks before the death, the news release said.
Hopkins told investigators he had given the child a bath and then found him on the bathroom floor in respiratory distress, prosecutors said.
He said he attempted CPR and put clothing on the child before emergency medical help arrived, prosecutors said.
But medical experts said the child had been dead at least one hour before help came, according to the news release.
An autopsy showed the 26-pound toddler had bruises on his legs, buttocks, hips and arms and had injuries in various stages of healing, the release said.
Doctors testified the child had defensive wounds on his arms and hands from attempting to shield himself from blows, the release said.
Hopkins told investigators the child fell down stairs the night before his death. But medical experts said the pattern, location and number of injuries were not consistent with a fall, prosecutors said.
The child was a victim of repeated abuse, medical experts testified.
Assistant 11th Circuit solicitor Micah Caskey said the death is heartbreaking.
“I hope people pay attention to this story from the governor on down,” he said in the news release. “This cannot be tolerated.”