Police Chief's Son Pleads Guilty to Murdering Stepson After Using Belt to Brutally Beat 3-Year-Old Boy

The son of a Georgia police chief has been sentenced to 25 years in prison without parole after pleading guilty to the killing of his 3-year-old stepson last year.

Joshua David Richards, of Villa Rica, was convicted in the Carroll County's Superior Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to 2nd degree murder and cruelty to children of the 1st Degree. He is the son of Carrollton Police Department Chief Joel Richards.

Richards, then 21, was arrested on January 23 last year after the 3-year-old was found "injured and unresponsive." The child passed away as a result of his injuries five days later.

Villa Rica police said at the time that Richards had been arrested on the same day as the alleged crime was reported, initially on charges including aggravated assault and aggravated battery. The charges were upgraded after the child died in hospital.

Per the court's ruling this week, Richards has now been sentenced to 50 years with 25 years to be served without possibility of parole. The remaining 25 years will be served on probation, officials said.

Authorities first found the child while responding to the Hickory Falls Apartments in Villa Rica at around 10:10 a.m. on January 23 last year. The child was airlifted to an Atlanta area medical center. Richards initially claimed that the toddler's injuries had been caused by an accidental fall.

The victim's mother was reportedly sleeping in another room at the time of the attack. She called for help after noticing the bruising on the child's body, 11 Alive reported.

However, according to prosecutors, the boy's injuries were extensive.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the incident started after the child vomited in his bed during the night and Richards made him take a cold bath.

The child fell inside and outside of the tub, prosecutors said, adding the boy also hit his head on a mirror after falling from a counter and on the floor after being tripped by a towel.

Prosecutors said Richards' internet history showed he searched about unconsciousness and head trauma the same night as the attack. The police chief's son reportedly admitted he had used a belt to hit the child while disciplining him, leaving bruising on his body. The victim suffered multiple skull fractures, brain bleeding, a stroke and seizures before passing away.

"This is a beautiful child who is defenseless against an adult. It breaks your heart," Villa Rica police captain K.L. Shaddix said last year, Fox 5 Atlanta reported, as Richards made his first appearance in court on the upgraded charges. He sobbed as the judge produced them.

In a statement yesterday, the Villa Rica Police Department offered condolences to the family of the deceased child. It said on Facebook: "We also want to thank the officers, detectives, and the District Attorney's Office for their hard work and dedication to bring this case to a close."

Joshua David Richards
Pictured: Joshua David Richards. He was was convicted in the Carroll County Superior Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to 2nd degree murder and cruelty to children of the 1st Degree. Department of Corrections
Police Chief's Son Pleads Guilty to Murdering Stepson After Using Belt to Brutally Beat 3-Year-Old Boy | News