The son of a Georgia police chief has been charged with murder in connection with the death of his 3-year-old stepson, multiple outlets report.
Joshua David Richards, 21, of Villa Rica, wept when he appeared in court before a judge Monday, local station WSB-TV reports.
On Jan. 23, police in Villa Rica responded to a 911 call about a 3-year-old child who had been found injured, according to a release from the Villa Rica Police Department. The child was airlifted to an Atlanta area hospital with a head injury, the release states.
During the investigation, authorities determined that Richards had allegedly caused the toddler’s injuries, the release says.
The child died on Sunday afternoon, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Richards is the son of Carrollton Police Chief Joel Richards, according to multiple outlets.
Investigators believe Richards allegedly beat the boy with a belt, the Constitution reports.
On Jan. 23, Richards was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery, first-degree cruelty to children and possession of marijuana.
On Monday, following the child’s death, he was charged with murder, WRDW reports.
Police believe the boy’s mother was sleeping in a nearby room when Richards allegedly attacked the boy, causing “severe trauma” to his head, the outlet reports.
Police said the mother called 911 when he didn’t wake up and then discovered he was severely injured, WSB-TV reports.
“The baby had multiple marks, bruises all over his body and a large knot over his eyebrows,” the judge said in court Monday.
The judge also noted that the child had massive injuries to both sides of his brain.
Richards denied hurting his stepson on purpose, WSB-TV reports. He said he dropped the child while his wife was asleep, according to the outlet.
“He does admit to disciplining the child, as he was, in fact, living with the child for a number of months while he was in his custody,” said Richards’ defense attorney Mac Pilgrim, WSB-TV reports.
“But at this point, he’s made no indication that he’s ever abused this child in any way,” Pilgrim adds.
Richards is currently being held at the Carroll County Jail without bond. It is unclear if he has entered a plea.
His attorney did not immediately return calls for comment.