Father gets 23 years in prison for beating his child to death in Rock Hill

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — A man was sent to prison Tuesday for beating his 2-year-old child to death. Bruce Williams, 34, claimed he didn't remember the night of violence that killed his son.

On April 24, 2018, Williams, his wife, Lakeisha Jackson, and three children were in a motel room at the Royal Regency Inn in Riverview Road in Rock Hill. The couple was reportedly doing drugs, and Williams was high on Xanax.

Investigators said Williams began beating 2-year-old Miguel Williams while the two other children watched.

[PAST COVERAGE: Detective describes death of 2-year-old in Rock Hill motel room]

The pathologist later described the cause of the little boy's death as "full body blunt force trauma."

"He had bruises from head to toe," said Rock Hill Police Detective Chris Quate, who saw the dead child after the attack.

However, Bruce Williams and Jackson made up a story, allegedly lying to police and saying the boy was found floating in the motel bathtub. They said they did CPR to try to save him.

Yet, no one ever called 911. They took the child, who officials said was likely already dead, and drove to a friend's house on Williams Street.

Officials said they started drinking liquor and refused to call 911 or let their friend call.

Bruce Williams and Jackson said they were worried about DSS getting involved. That's another awful part of this story, said Quate.

"As traumatic as it was to see a young boy's lifeless, beaten and battered body, it was awful and shocking to hear Miguel's life story leading up to the moment of his death," he said.

[PAST COVERAGE: Mother, father charged after 2-year-old boy dies in Rock Hill]

DSS had taken Miguel Williams from Jackson once before. Officials said he thrived in foster care for several months. His foster family took several pictures of a happy child and saw him pass several important milestones in his young life.

Then, custody was given to Bruce Williams, his father. His mother, Jackson, told police she felt no duty to step in and help that night or even call 911.

"Miguel's life and now death were an inconvenience to his parents," Quate said in court.

After telling lies in statements to police, Williams and Jackson eventually turned on each other. Prosecutors said the evidence clearly showed this was not a drowning incident.

"They pointed fingers at each other, claiming the other one actually assaulted the child during the time they were together in the motel," said Deputy Solicitor Willy Thompson.

Bruce Williams will serve 23 years in prison and appear on a child abuse and neglect registry.

He took what's called an Alford plea,  which means he does not admit he committed the crime, but knows that if a jury heard the evidence, he'd likely be convicted in a trial.  Such a plea is treated as a guilty plea under the law.

The mother of the child, Jackson, hasn't been to court yet. She also faces child neglect charges and homicide by child abuse.