Jurors in the case of a Lakewood Ranch man accused of killing his girlfriend’s son began deliberating late Monday afternoon and continued deep into the night.
Deliberations will resume at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Richard Williams, 37, is charged with the July 11, 2015, killing of 17-month-old William “Quincey” Pollard. Williams, who faces a second-degree murder charge, could face up to life in prison if convicted.
Closing arguments began earlier in the afternoon following the state’s final witness, babysitter Jennifer McGinness.
McGinness, who watched Quincey for a little more than two months, testified that she saw a distinct change in the child’s behavior following her return from vacation. She recalled a time when Courtney Pollard, the toddler’s mother and then girlfriend of the defendant, asked her to drop Quincey off at the condo with only Williams home.
“He got very upset and started screaming. It was a fearful cry, not a normal separation cry,” McGinness said.
According to McGinness, Quincey ran from Williams and wanted to be picked up while the defendant sat there and watched. The next time Pollard asked her to drop him off, she says she kept him for an extra hour or two before bringing him to the mall that Pollard worked at instead.
She also said Quincey got much fussier in the weeks leading up to his death. He had a difficult time sleeping and separating from his mother, McGinness said.
Defense attorney Jennifer Fury argued in her closing statements that there wasn’t enough information to know what happened to Quincey with any level of certainty.
“No one’s proven that anyone did anything purposefully to that child,” she said. “Either (Williams) is the best liar in the world, or it went down the way he said it did.”
Dr. Suzanne Utley, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, stated in testimony last week that the death was ultimately the result of cerebral cranial trauma and subsequent swelling of the brain. Much of the defense’s testimony revolved around friends and family members of Williams who say the saw Quincey fall on multiple occasions. His trouble walking and communicating led Williams to grow concerned that he may have been developmentally disabled.
Dr. Ted Meyer, Quincey’s pediatrician, saw no such abnormalities during more than a dozen visits to his office.
McGinness, who has experience volunteering at daycares and pre-schools as well as a previous babysitting job, said Quincey initially toddled about like a toddler, but gradually improved with his walking. She said she never saw him take any hard falls without bracing himself.
According to Williams’ testimony on Thursday, Quincey fell at least three times on the day he died: off a park bench, a piece of playground equipment as well as bumping his head in the bathtub.
However, when questioned during a police interview, Williams only mentioned the tub incident.
When asked about his response, Williams says that he couldn’t recall everything that happened that day due to being in shock and not connecting the events. At the time, he said he didn’t realize that the cause of death was brain trauma.
Williams allegedly heard the child gagging before finding him face down in his pillow, which was wet with vomit. That’s when he took the child to the bathroom to get him cleaned up before realizing that he was breathing heavily. Thinking he was having an asthma attack, he called Pollard.
Assistant State Attorney Julia Binkley pointed to phone records as possible indicators of foul play. There’s a time gap between 5:58 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. where Williams had no outgoing texts or calls.
“I submit to you that he hurt that child during that time frame, and now he’s panicking,” Binkley said.
According to testimony from several doctors, the trauma that would have caused this sort of impact would have immediately preceded the child’s death, probably by no more than an hour or two.
Matthew Davenport, an assistant state attorney, continuously referenced testimony provided by Dr. Sally Smith that stated the amount of trauma exhibited would be equivalent to a high-speed car crash or a fall from a three-story building.
Binkley wondered why Williams called Pollard rather than calling an ambulance: “He knew he did something horrible. He didn’t act on it, he didn’t jump in his car, he didn’t call 911.”
After Williams’ call, Pollard got home within minutes to find Quincey, whose eyes were still open but he was struggling to breathe. He went limp in her arms. As soon as she saw him, she yelled, “Rick! We have to take him to the hospital now!”
The boy was pronounced dead at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.