RALEIGH -- Xavier Kelly only lived seven months, but he faced enough abuse in his short life to suffer multiple rib fractures, a black eye and head trauma.
The infant’s father Diontay Williams, 25, unexpectedly pleaded guilty this afternoon to a second-degree murder charge for Xavier’s death in the middle of his trial at the Wake County Courthouse.
Williams, who had been released from a jail sentence for violating probation less than a month before Xavier’s death in August, 2007, received a nine to 12-year prison sentence.
Diontay Deshone Williams, 24, is charged with murder in connection with his son's death.
Xavier’s mother Tanista Dendy, 23, was in the courtroom along with her mother and grandmother to watch Williams admit to killing her son. She had planned to marry him at one point.
Several of Williams’ family, upset he decided to plea, filed out of the courtroom before he pleaded, disrupting the court proceedings.
In opening statements made this morning, Wake assistant district attorney Christy Joyce said once Williams moved to Cary with Xavier and Dendy from Greensboro, that Xavier began vomiting whenever Williams stayed with him, an apparent sign that he’d been abused.
Dendy’s family also recalled seeing the baby with a black eye and having tender ribs in the months before his death.
When Williams went to jail over the summer, Xavier’s vomiting ceased, and he appeared to be fine, Joyce said.
Joyce said on the day Xavier died, Williams had called Dendy at her work at 4 p.m. to tell her that Xavier wasn’t breathing. He didn't reach her, and then frantically tried calling her 17 more times. But it wasn’t until after 6 p.m. that he called emergency responders to help.
When EMS and firefighters arrived, Xavier was dead, Joyce said.
The state’s chief medical examiner later determined Xavier died of Battered Child Syndrome, with three instances of head trauma to the head and healed rib fractures indicating prior abuse, Joyce said.
At the start of the trial, Joyce said she intended to ask jurors to convict Williams of first-degree murder, a punishment that would carry a lifetime punishment since they opted not to seek the death penalty.
When Williams decided to plea, he avoided that punishment and pleaded guilty under what’s called an Alford plea. In those cases, criminal defendants can plead guilty, but don’t admit actual guilt. They acknowledge, however, that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict.
According to police documents, Williams told a detective in one of his conflicting statements that he had shaken the baby and then went online on his home computer.
Police later found that Williams had gone to sites dealing with infant health and Sudden Infant Death syndrome.
Williams has been in jail awaiting his trial since August 2007.