Leon Williams officially became the father of 10-year-old Kentae Williams in November 2016, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
An “adoption party” had brought them together, the newspaper reported. Williams, 44, thought he was emotionally equipped to parent a child with autism and mental issues, AJC said.
But less than a year later, Williams’ attempt to discipline Kentae left the boy dead, police allege. Now he's charged with murder, the DeKalb Neighbor reported.
Williams and his son were heading into their Decatur, Georgia apartment on April 28, 2017 when witnesses say they heard him saying the boy was getting a “whooping” for misbehaving in school, WXIA said. Neighbors saw him drag Kentae by his neck as they made their way inside, the news station reported..
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The man was making threats against the boy that were concerning, neighbor Yolanda Ingram told WXIA last May. He allegedly told Kentae, “you’re going to die tonight,” according to prosecutors, AJC reported.
"I know parents, we’re mad and we say, ‘Oh, Imma whoop your tail.' But (we'd never) think they gonna actually kill... He didn’t look like the type that would kill someone or had that much anger in him,” Ingram told WXIA.
Police say Williams beat the boy with a belt, burned him with hot water and held him underwater in a bathtub multiple times, FOX 5 reported. Williams allegedly forced the boy’s head into the water because he wasn’t listening to him, prosecutors said, according to WXIA.
Kentae’s grandmother, who was at the home at the time, told police she heard him throw a tantrum because he didn’t want to take a bath, FOX 5 reported.
Williams reportedly called for his mother when the boy stopped breathing, AJC said in May 2017. Kentae was taken to the hospital where he died, FOX 5 reported.
After Kentae’s death, several people were fired at Georgia’s Division of Family Children Services, according to AJC.
Opening statements began Tuesday in Williams’ trial. Defense attorney Daryl Queen said Williams adopted Kentae because he had a void in his life, AJC reported. Queen acknowledged that Williams was responsible for his son’s death, but said his client isn’t a “murderer.”