Joshua Richards, the son of a Georgia police chief, wept during his first appearance in court Monday since he was charged with brutally beating his 3-year-old stepson to death.
Prosecutors claim the 21-year-old Richards seriously injured Brentley Gore by whipping him with a belt, reports NBC 11. Gore died Sunday afternoon at the hospital. Villa Rica Police said authorities arrived at the Hickory Falls Apartments last Tuesday morning in response to a report of an injured child.
The mother frantically called 911 when she couldn’t wake up her son in the morning. She noticed bruises on the boy and injuries to his head. The child was airlifted to an Atlanta-area hospital, where he was found to have multiple skull fractures.
“There was some swelling around the eyes, some bruising that showed up on the forehead,” Villa Rica Police Capt. Keith Shaddix told NBC 11.
On Monday, Richards made his first appearance in court to face an upgraded charge of murder. He entered the courtroom in a lime-green jail suit, handcuffs on his wrists and shackles around his ankles. Courtroom footage showed him crying while answering the judge’s questions.
Richards’ attorney claimed that the child’s death was accidental, and that the injuries occurred when Gore’s stepfather dropped him while the mother was asleep.
Richards is the son of Carollton, Georgia, Police Chief Joel Richards. He was initially charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery, cruelty to children in the first degree and possession of marijuana. Murder charges were added after the boy died.
“I’ve been doing this for 40 years, and these kinds of cases break my heart,” Shaddix said.
Richards is reportedly on suicide watch, according to NBC 11. He is being held at the Carroll County Jail after being denied bond last week.
A GoFundMe page set up to help the boy’s family with his medical expenses. According to the page, Gore underwent emergency surgery last Thursday to remove a portion of his fractured skull in hopes of relieving some pressure from the swelling on his brain. Unfortunately, the treatment wasn’t enough to save him.
Richards worked for a home security company headquartered in Tennessee and married Gore’s mother in June 2017, reports the Daily Mail. She is now two months pregnant with her second child, according to WSBTV.
Richard last posted on his Facebook page on Dec. 8, 2017, sharing a photo showing a smiling Brentley playing in the snow with his parents.