In court on April 25, Lakesheia Jackson called the death of her 2-year-old son "an accident." Police now say that death was a case of abuse and murder.
Police say Bruce Leroy Williams beat his son, Miguel Williams, to death. Police also say Jackson failed to stop the abuse. Both parents were formally charged in court Monday.
Williams is charged with murder and homicide by child abuse, according to arrest warrants and court testimony. Jackson is charged with homicide by child neglect, warrants and testimony show.
Both appeared in court Monday and were denied bond.
Williams, 33, and Jackson, 25, of Rock Hill, were identified by police and court officials as the child's parents. The homicide happened in front of the couple's two other children at a Rock Hill motel, then both parents failed to get medical attention for the child, arrest warrants state.
Williams is accused of beating his son "about his head, face and body," resulting in catastrophic injuries, Det. Kris Quate of the Rock Hill Police Department said during a bond hearing Monday.
"This was a very violent act," Quate said.
Police did not release details of the injuries.
A charge of murder requires malice before the killing, said Willy Thompson, 16th Circuit Deputy Solicitor.
A murder conviction carries a minimum of 30 years in prison or up to life. However, because the victim is under age 11, prosecutors could seek the death penalty.
Williams also is accused of homicide by child abuse, which is different than murder. Williams is accused of failing to get medical attention for his son, then intentionally making false statements to investigators, according to police, prosecutors and arrest warrants.
The abuse of the child caused the death, an arrest warrant states.
Thompson said homicide by child abuse includes conditions such as someone causing the death of a child under age 11 while committing abuse or neglect, and showing an "extreme indifference to human life."
Homicide by child abuse carries 20 years to life in prison for a conviction, Rock Hill Municipal Judge Jane Modla said in court.
Williams also faces three counts of child abuse and neglect for the deceased child and two other children who were in the motel room, warrants state.
Williams made no comment Monday in court. He started to speak, but Modla warned him that any statements could be used against him. Williams then declined to comment.
All three of the children, including the youngest who is now deceased, were part of previous DSS investigations, police said. Williams had custody of the deceased child at the time the child died, previous court testimony showed.
Williams and Jackson had been charged with felony child neglect and jailed without bond since the day after their son died April 24. The child was not breathing and died at a home belonging to someone else. Williams and Jackson brought the child to the home from a motel, police and coroner officials said.
Williams and Jackson told police their son drowned in a motel room bathtub, according to reports. Police also said in court that Williams and Jackson used drugs before the child died.
Jackson is more than five months pregnant, court testimony in April showed. She faces a 20-year sentence if convicted. The couple have two other children who are in the custody of the S.C. Department of Social Services, officials said.
Williams 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.