A Charlotte man will spend 13 years in prison after admitting to killing his girlfriend's 2-year-old son.
James Cleveland pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder in the death of Demytre Pendleton in September 2011.
Ariacna Romero, the baby's mother, is facing a charge of being an accessory after the fact in her son's death, but she began to cry after the hearing as she talked about what she now calls a big mistake--trusting Cleveland to watch her young son they called DJ.
"It was difficult to think that I trusted someone that would do that," she said.
In court, the prosecutor said that DJ had gone to the hospital twice in two weeks with serious injuries--and by the time police arrested Cleveland it was too late, and after the hearing DJ's father and grandmother were left to wonder, what if.
"If I had've had him, or if we had went and done something that day, it might have been different," Demytre Pendleton Sr. said.
Robin Pendleton is certain of one thing--13 years in prison is not enough time to make up for the precious grandson she lost.
"To me this is like a slap on the wrist--that you can serve a little bit of time and get out and do whatever you want and live your life and if you choose to make a decision like this again you have that opportunity," she said.
Ariacna Romero is due in court in May on the accessory charge.
James Cleveland's family also attended the hearing, and they left without comment.