YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A 21-year-old man charged with killing his infant son who was not even 2 months old pleaded guilty Monday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court and was sentenced to prison.
The plea by Xavier Richardson, of Youngstown, heads off a trial that was set to begin Monday before Judge John Durkin with jury selection. He had been charged with murder but that was amended to involuntary manslaughter in exchange for his plea. He also pleaded guilty to a child endangering charge.
Richardson was sentenced to 15 years in prison, which was a jointly recommended sentence by the attorneys in the case. He will get credit for the time he has served in the county jail waiting for his trial.
Richardson was arrested shortly after detectives were called March 16, 2019 for a report of an infant he brought to the hospital. Hospital staff reported the baby showed signs of abuse, including bite marks and bleeding on the brain.
Richardson denied hurting the baby but told detectives he had been alone with the baby.
The baby boy, Xavier Richardson Jr., had been born Jan. 25, 2019.
Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin said prosecutors would have had a tough case because there were no witnesses, although it is undisputed that the baby was alive before he was left with Richardson.
“What we were left with was the circumstances and the medical evidence,” McLaughlin said.
Defense attorney Mark Lavelle said his client is “battling demons of his own” and the crime will never make sense.
Lavelle said the circumstantial evidence was “overwhelming,” which was why he accepted a plea.
Richardson declined to speak to the court.
The baby’s mother had trouble putting her thoughts into words.
“He gave my son a life sentence,” she said. “I feel like it’s not fair that my son had to die. He was like a ray of sunshine. He was just a baby. What more can you ask of a baby to just cry and smile?”