A Michigan man accused of shaking his girlfriend’s 4-month-old daughter to death has taken a plea deal and now could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Richard Watson, 46, pleaded guilty this week to second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse, Midland Daily News reports.
Under the deal, prosecutors dropped other counts of felony murder and open murder against him.
The charges Watson pleaded to carry a sentence of up to life in prison, although he could be paroled.
Watson killed the toddler, Evelyn Legacy, when she was 4 months old. She died August 14, 2015 at an Ann Arbor, Michigan, hospital.
An autopsy found that the girl suffered “massive internal brain injury” and had at least three ribs that were previously fractured. Doctors found that the injuries were consistent with abuse and were natural or accidental, the newspaper reports.
Authorities believe the child’s brain injury likely happened in the early morning hours of August 9, 2015. Doctors told police that the injury “would have caused an almost immediate, severe, irreversible condition.”
Watson told investigators that he was responsible for the injuries to the girl. He said he had gotten up to take pain medicine and heard the baby crying, so he went to check on her. While trying to quiet the child, Watson said he “snapped and began shaking the baby in the crib,” Midland Police Detective Ryan Duynslager wrote in an affidavit.
“He said he did this for about one minute, at which time the baby became quiet,” Duynslager wrote.
Even though Watson and the mother could not wake Legacy that morning, they decided to take the child to an IKEA store. The girl was later found unresponsive and suffering from respiratory and cardiac arrest.
She was later flown to a children’s hospital where she died.
Watson claimed that the toddler’s fractured ribs could have been caused when the girl was crying and he squeezed her until she went to sleep about a month before the death.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in October, court records show.
[Featured Image: Midland County Jail]