Frankie Aubrey Williams, a 26-year-old dad, pleaded guilty on Thursday to beating his baby daughter Alayah — who was not even two years old — so badly that it cost the little girl her life, in a horrifying child abuse case so shocking that it led the state of Maryland to enact a new law last year aimed at preventing another such sickening incident from happening again to another helpless child.
Due to state and federal laws that encourage state agencies to reunite families after children have been placed in foster care, Alayah Williams was returned to her parents Frankie Williams and Stephanie Ramirez Williams of Frederick, Maryland, just three weeks before child’s death on March 14, 2014 — a death caused by Frankie Williams who, according to a report in the Frederick News Post, punched his little daughter repeatedly in the stomach because she refused to eat a cereal snack bar, and was crying loudly enough to disturb her sister.
The multiple blows, which Williams admitted according to police records cited by the Baltimore Sun, carried “enough force to have hurt an adult,” severed Alayah’s small intestine, damaged other organs in her abdomen, and resulted in serious internal bleeding.
Williams was alone with the child at the time. When Stephanie Williams returned from work later in the day, she found Alayah in severe pain. But still, neither parent took any action until midnight when the little girl became unresponsive and the couple called 911.
Alayah Williams died at Frederick Memorial Hospital, but as severe as her injuries from her father’s beating were, her life may have been saved if she had been taken in for emergency surgery right away, rather than waiting for hours, prosecutors said in April of last year, when Stephanie Williams was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for her role in her baby daughter’s killing.
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But the heartbreaking and infuriating case became a public scandal when it was revealed that Alayah had been taken from her parents in 2012, shortly after her birth, after previous abuse that left the child with cerebral palsy.
The six-foot-two, 180 pound Frankie Williams this week also admitted that he caused those injuries as well, when Alayah was only three months old and she was taken to a hospital with violent head trauma that fractured her skull and caused her brain to move inside her head, ultimately resulting in her disability.
But how could the little girl have been returned to her abusive parents at all, especially after suffering such sickening abuse while still a newborn? The following video news report explains the background to what became known as “Alayah’s Law,” a bill signed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan in 2015 that grants state social services workers additional discretion in whether or not to reunite families, under certain circumstances.
Amazingly, before being “reunited” with the parents who had caused her cerebral palsy, Alayah was handed over to the Williams couple for an overnight visit in December of 2013. After the visit, the child bore evidence of further injuries.
But that only delayed the date when the couple would get Alayah back, pushing it by two months, rather than causing the reunification to be canceled altogether.
Stephanie Williams entered an “Alford plea,” meaning that she pleaded guilty but never admitted her guilt in the fatal abuse of her daughter Alayah. In a normal guilty plea, a defendant must publicly admit to the crime being charged.
Frankie Williams initially attempted to enter an insanity plea, which would have allowed him to avoid “criminal responsibility” for the death of Alayah. But after psychological tests, he was found to be legally sane. He was sentenced to life behind bars after pleading guilty to first degree murder, but with all but 60 years of his prison sentence suspended. He was also hit with a 25-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty in the earlier child abuse case involving his daughter Alayah.
[Featured Photos via WJZ-TV Screen Capture / Frederick County Sheriff’s Department]