Defendant Richard Williams testifies in death of 17-month-old toddler

Richard Williams, charged in the 2015 death of his then girlfriend’s 17-month-old son, William “Quincey” Pollard, testifies in court Friday at the Manatee County Courthouse in downtown Bradenton.
Richard Williams, charged in the 2015 death of his then girlfriend’s 17-month-old son, William “Quincey” Pollard, testifies in court Friday at the Manatee County Courthouse in downtown Bradenton. zwittman@bradenton.com

Testimony resumed Friday in the trial of a Lakewood Ranch man charged with the 2015 death of his girlfriend’s 17-month-old son.

Richard Williams, 37, took the stand where he described the night of July 11, 2015. It was the night Courtney Pollard returned home from work to find her son struggling to breathe and going limp. Williams is charged with second-degree murder and if convicted, he will face up to life in prison.

“I heard a gagging noise, like someone was puking. He was face down toward the pillow,” Williams said.

Williams says he checked on Quincey about 10 minutes earlier and everything was fine. It wasn’t until his daughter headed toward the room to grab some toys that he discovered the child with vomit in his bed. That’s when he took Quincey to the bathroom and asked his daughter to grab a towel. His breathing started getting heavier, so he called the boy’s mother. After a while, he was full on gasping for air. Williams says he thought the boy was having an asthma attack.

Pollard got home a few minutes later and they rushed him to the hospital, where Quincey was pronounced dead. An autopsy later revealed that the 17-month-old died from blunt-force trauma to the head.

When questioned by police, Williams said Quincey slipped and fell in the bathtub that evening. During Friday’s testimony, he recalls that Quincey fell on several different occasions throughout the day during their time at the park and the pool.

Two members of Williams’ family, mother Pamela Kellogg and sister Alisha Geisman, testified that they had witnessed Quincey falling on multiple occasions, including during gatherings on Father’s Day and the Fourth of July. When Williams brought Quincey over on Father’s Day, Geisman said that she immediately noticed that something was off.

“He didn’t look like your average child. He was very wobbly when he walked,” she says.

According to Kellogg, Quincey fell earlier that morning while Williams was off getting a haircut and she was left to babysit. By the time Williams brought him over to his sister’s house later that day, Geisman says the swelling was so bad that it looked like he had an “alien head.” The explanation she was given of allergies didn’t seem sufficient. When he fell again that evening at Geisman’s house, they convinced Pollard to take him to the hospital.

Williams had concerns for Quincey’s development, which he says he attempted to express to Pollard on a few occasions.

“Based on my understanding, he should have been talking more and been better with communication,” he says.

If Quincey did fall several times on July 11, Assistant State Attorney Julie Binkley wants to know why previous written statements fail to mention the incidents.

Binkley read out loud from a statement in open court that was taken the same evening of Quincey’s passing. In it, she says Detective James Wischer asked Williams what happened during that day and if Quincey had been injured at all during the course of the day. Williams responded no.

During Binkley’s cross-examination, she pressed Williams on why he didn’t contact emergency services as the boy was struggling to breathe.

“You had access to a car that night, right? Your phone was clearly working,” she said.

She then read from a deposition which stated that Williams pressed his ear up against the boy’s chest to listen for a heartbeat because he thought he had stopped breathing. She questioned why, if he thought Quincey’s condition was that serious, would he not call 911 immediately instead of calling Pollard.

Dr. Edward Willey, a St. Petersburg pathologist, took the stand for the defense earlier Friday morning. He spent much of his testimony speaking to the fact that he didn’t find sufficient evidence for blunt-force trauma as the cause of death, noting that he thinks there are a whole range of possible reasons for the fatality. Dr. Willey cited high white blood cell counts as possible indicators for leukemia or a leukemoid reaction. He also says that there were cultures of escherichia coli and streptococcus found in the lungs, as well as what could be the early stages of pneumonia.

In cross-examination, Binkley pointed out that during Dr. Willey’s review of the case materials, he was working under the assumption of a peripheral blood draw being used, when in fact an intraosseous blood draw was used. After being presented with this evidence, Dr. Willey withdrew his consideration of leukemia or a leukemoid reaction as being a likely cause of death.

When pressed for why Dr. Willey has almost exclusively testified for the defense since 1985 at a rate of $300 an hour, he replied, “the more you talk the more I get paid.”

The trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. Monday.