Crime & Courts

'It was an accident': SC parents charged with neglect after 2-year-old dies

The parents of a 2-year-old boy found dead Tuesday in Rock Hill have been charged with child neglect, police said. Bond was denied for both parents Wednesday afternoon.

Bruce Leroy Williams, 33, and Lakesheia Jackson, 25, of Rock Hill, were arrested during the death investigation. Jackson and Williams initially told police the child drowned in a motel bathtub before the child was found by emergency responders in a home two hours later, said Rock Hill Police Department Det. Britney May in court Wednesday afternoon.

In court, Rock Hill city judge Dolores Williams identified the child who died as Miguel Williams, son of the two defendants.

York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said in a statement late Wednesday that the coroner's office responded to a home on Williams Street in Rock Hill to investigate a death at the residence Tuesday. "Miguel Williams was found to be unresponsive by his parents. He was pronounced dead on scene," Gast said in the statement.

Prosecutors and police asked bond be denied.

"There is a great likelihood there will be significantly more serious charges after an autopsy," said Kevin Brackett, 16th Circuit Solicitor, in court Wednesday.

Gast said a final autopsy and toxicology results are pending.

The parents did not seek medical help for the child for two hours after an incident Tuesday morning at the Royal Regency Inn motel on Riverview Road, May said in court Wednesday.

May said the victim's injuries "on various locations on his body" were consistent with the child having been assaulted.

May said both suspects used drugs before the child died and withheld medical help. May said in court the child's father told police he was "afraid he would get in trouble" if he told what happened when first questioned Tuesday by police.

Police responded to a Williams Street home in Rock Hill about 10 a.m Tuesday after the child was found not breathing, according to an incident report and Rock Hill police Lt. Michael Chavis. Emergency medical workers and Rock Hill Fire Department firefighters also responded to the home, Chavis said.

However, police said in court Wednesday, the abuse and neglect happened at a motel on Riverview Road in Rock Hill before the child was moved to the Williams Street home.

Williams, the boy's father, cried in court but did not say anything.

"I'm sorry for everything going on," the child's mother said in court. "It was a complete accident. I just hate it."

Jackson is pregnant and the couple has two other children, testimony showed Wednesday. S.C. Department of Social Services agents took custody of the couple's two other children Tuesday after the incident, officials said in court.

Jackson also has another child who lives with a family member, Jackson told the court.

Jackson asked the judge for bond so she could see her children.

"I'm five months pregnant, and I'm innocent on top of that," she said in court.

Neighbor Marlene Cooney, who lives next door to where the child was found, said police knocked on her door Tuesday.

"It makes me sick that a baby lost his life, a little boy who hadn't had a chance to live," Cooney said. "It is just devastating."

Cooney said she saw Williams and Jackson outside the home with emergency crews on the scene. Cooney said they are "good people" and "nice neighbors."

Leslye Forner, who lives across the street from where the child died, watched as crews first tried to save the child then left with the boy's body as police investigated.

"All I saw was the people at the scene wearing gloves and bringing out brown bags," Forner said of the police investigators. "It is heartbreaking. Just tragic."

The father has a felony criminal conviction record dating back to 2005, State Law Enforcement Division records show. Williams served prison time for cocaine possession and was convicted in 2017 on drug charges, according to SLED and court records.

Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065, @AndrewDysHerald

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